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Coursera

Ideas from the History of Graphic Design

California Institute of the Arts via Coursera

Overview

This condensed survey course focuses on four key periods or themes from the history of design in the West. Together we’ll trace the emergence of design as a recognized practice, why things look the way they do, and how designers approached specific design problems in their work.

Students will develop an understanding of where the wide variety of today’s design practice comes from. By participating in this survey of the works of innovative groups and individuals, we outline the process by which graphic design moved from a purely instrumental practice, to becoming a demanding creative and hybridized field.

Each week, a short quiz will test your knowledge of concepts, and a short reflective assignment will give you the opportunity to analyze the questions designers ask themselves today.

This is an essential course for emerging designers entering the field, or for students interested in learning more about visual culture and analysis. No previous experience is required.

A note about this course:

This course is taught from the perspective of contemporary design, to connect ideas that helped formulate design practice from the 1850s through the 1960s to the ways that designers think today. The relationship of words and pictures in graphic design is looked at through the ever-changing social and cultural contexts, technologies, aesthetics, and politics of their eras.

The definition and practice of graphic design includes all public visual communications, which is a global practice. It was the evolution of mass production and communication in the West that specifically redefined graphic design as a professional practice and is this course’s particular narrative. We hope students will consider how to connect the themes and ideas offered in this course to your own culture.

Syllabus

  • Early Mass Marketing
    • This week we are going to take a look at the effects of industrialization in the late 19th century, and how goods were produced, sold, and marketed.
  • The Bauhaus
    • This week, we'll look at how the work and teachings of The Bauhaus (1919-1933), and how design emerged as a recognized practice.
  • Modernism in America
    • Modernism in mid-century America through the eyes of four key designers.
  • Graphic Design Radicalism
    • Design practice in the late 1950s to early 1970s was new, radical and divergent. To show you just how varied it was, we’ll look at the work of four key players/movements.

Taught by

Louise Sandhaus and Lorraine Wild

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