Prompot: Write an essay on emerging themes in graphic design discourse and create a printed object to demonstrate and illustrate the themes – creating a typographic artifact in the form of a booklet.

Designers have many inherent capabilities. One of these capabilities involves the power to solve problems through design strategies—taking into consideration man, its needs and its purpose. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a man is “a human being of either sex; a person.” In this essay, I will refer to human beings of either sex as man due to the way human beings are referred to in the references that used to support my argument. When all of these elements are combined, it creates a functional design that works to achieve something. Whether talking about designing a poster or an experience, we, as designers, should always place man in the center of our designs. So why do we always take man into consideration? Why is man always in our equation? We place man in the center of the design process because our audience/clients/viewers are experiencing this information no matter the form it takes. I would argue that if something is not designed for or with consideration to man and his needs, it lacks function. Design can take the form of many things—a chair, a typography poster, and even a virtual reality headset.

According to Louis Sullivan, “design is not for designs sake . . . design is for man” (Gyorgy Kepes 99). What does it really mean to “design for man?” Charles Eames, an American architect and designer, was famously known for his Eames chair. He believed in “good design . . . to improve people’s lives. [He] made comfortable chairs . . . because [he] wanted everyone to be able to sit on good furniture” (Doug Stewart 2). When Eames was designing the chair, he made multiple iterations, and finally came up with a design that was based on the contour of the humans body in order to provide optimal comfort. This chair became a model for comfort, which had purpose and met the needs of man. On the other hand, Gerrit Rietveld, a Dutch furniture designer and architect, designed chairs that were “unusable art objects that claimed to be useful” (Rotis 125). Is the primary function of a chair not simply a means to rest on? If so and if this function is not met, then the “chair” is nothing but an object.

Typography, another form of design, has one objective: to convey information in writing. As such, “[i]f a targeted reader is able to understand the words, then the typography would have accomplished its most fundamental job” (Denise Gonzales Crisp 26). Typography, thus, inevitably takes into consideration how a man might perceive the design. There are different forms of expression when it comes to typography. The purpose of one poster might be the legibility and organization, while the other might be bold, colorful and expressive with letters overlaid on top of each other. According to Emil Ruder, “a printed work which cannot be read becomes a product without purpose” (Ruder 6). With that, I agree. Information that is meant to be read should be legible—no one would argue that something intended to be read is meant for anyone other than man. However, typography can sometimes take the form of art, such that letters take the form of shapes that fil a page to create both visual and linguistic meaning.

Graphic design has been highly influenced by technology, especially when it comes to the tools we use. “Design problems are situated, that solutions must respond to specific human motives and activities, conditions, and setting” (Meredith Davis 57). Design over the years has evolved. In today's world, design has moved into an immersive and interactive experience. Due to advancements in technology, such technology has been influencing most of our designs today. By placing ourselves in a new world with a virtual reality headset, “man [is] in focus” (Gyorgy Kepes 99), and everything is designed for man’s experience. The most recent virtual reality headsets are constantly changing and advancing to keep up with the needs of man, and to make sure the headsets function well. “[Man] is an integral part of everything we can think of and do . . . We depend on his physical, emotional and intellectual response, on his understanding” (Will Burtin 95). Just as design is evolving, man's needs are constantly changing and we need to adapt to that.

We, as designers, design for man and his experiences. What is design if it does not function or move towards a specific goal? We live in a humancentric world—one where we try to meet the needs of man while still create meaning. Many designers like Charles Eames, Gyorgy Kepes and Will Burtin believe that man is a part of the design as much as, if not more than, anything else that goes into the design. When we take man into consideration, design creates something with purpose that can be applied to almost everything we create. “We begin with men and women and we end with them.  We consider the potential users’, habits, physical dimensions and psychological impulses (Henry Dreyfuss 219).

Works cited

Stewart, Doug. "EAMES: THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE." Smithsonian, vol. 30, no. 2, 05, 1999, pp. 78-82,84,86,88,90, eLibrary; ProQuest Central; SciTech Premium Collection, https://proxying.lib.ncsu.edu/index.php/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/docview/236865051?accountid=12725.

Hollins, Bill. "Designing for People." Design Management Review, vol. 15, no. 2, 2004, pp. 84, Arts Premium Collection; ProQuest Central, https://proxying.lib.ncsu.edu/index.php/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/docview/202963184?accountid=12725.

Davis, Meredith. Graphic Design Context, Graphic Design Theory. Thames & Hudson, 2012.

Crisp, Denise Gonzales., et al. Graphic Design in Context, Typography. Thames & Hudson, 2012.

Dreyfuss, Henry. Designing for people. Allworth Press, 2012.

Lindinger, Herbert. Ulm design: the morality of objects. Visual Communication. MIT Press, 1991.

Ingrassia, T. & Cappello, F. Int J Interact Des Manuf (2009) 3: 1. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12008-008-0056-2

Bierut, Michael, et al. Looking closer 3: classic writings on graphic design. Function in Modern Design. Allworth Press, 2001.