Pedagogy Design History page 3


Typography Education
A second area where Design Orientation enhances the educational experience is typography. While computer technology has revolutionized typesetting and expanded educational opportunities for instruction in typography, it has tended too undermine typographic excellence. Today, anyone who can operate a computer can select and use type from an enormous inventory of styles. Consequently, it is a typographic jungle with an incredible number of typestyles and type modifications to draw upon. Large numbers of relatively uneducated individuals are now using type for a wide array of applications. Additionally, most typographic usage today is connected with marketing or promotion. Headlines, novelty, fashion or style are characteristic to marketing and promotional typography. Standards for typographic excellence traditionally have been associated with book design. With the present emphasis in typography, students find few examples of typography that can have a favorable influence on their work.

Emphasis in type education currently might be misplaced in view of existing conditions. The educational focus is on using type with little or no attention to educating students how to distinguish a well designed typefaces from those that are badly designed–or to even understand the differences between the two. Students need to know what factors make a typeface appropriate for a particular situation. Perhaps there has to be renewed attention to human factors, function and typographic excellence in the use of type. Largely because of computers, this might be a good time to rethink instruction in the use of type because current demands are quite different from those of twenty years ago.

By and large, students now are seriously deficient in typographic standards. Design Orientation could play an extremely important and necessary role in education through exposing students to worthy typographic models. It provides examples for emulation from the past that should abet student understanding of type, and too aid them in coping at a higher performance level with current demands. There is a continuing role for design orientation throughout the Junior and Senior design classes. The showing of examples from the past should contribute to students acquiring higher performance standards. At the same time, a careful selection of subjects could have a strong influence on shaping student career choices. Presently, in selecting a career, students are at the mercy of what they see in the marketplace. This is even more of a problem for programs in outlying areas where often students are overly impressed with local standards.

Orientation: Research Projects
An aspect of Design Orientation that has produced commendable results for me in the past is student involvement in research projects. Design History research projects were regularly assigned as this forced students to take initiative to find information for themselves, and in the process, much peripheral information was absorbed. Students should be encouraged to also enroll in art and architectural history classes. Graphic design students having a back ground in art history seem to better understand design history. Periods of art history that I found particularly relevant for me were Renaissance painting where there was emphasis on formal structure in composition, and most paintings had a diagrammatic foundation. Of special interest was the French period from 1860 through the early years of the twentieth century. Perhaps the most significant of all was the period from 1900 to 1930 focused in the various movements such as De Stijl, Supremacists, DaDa, Futurists and Bauhaus. These movements contributed so strongly to the esthetics of modern graphic design. The history of architecture complements design history, and particularly the history of modern architects

Design Orientation can be taught by the individual responsible for Design History. The studio instructor could request a specific subject and the design historian would prepare a lecture or series of lectures. Perhaps a more preferable option is for the studio instructor to prepare the visual materials themselves. They best understand problem objectives and can better select the appropriate examples. To implement Design Orientation through relying on individual instructors, teachers should be encouraged to use visual materials, and there should be facilities with funds to organize and carry out this function. Students exposed to Design Orientation in the studio should realize greater benefit from Design History. Design History and Orientation are not one and the same. One is taught in the lecture hall and the other is taught in the studio, and students require both.


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