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Design and Design Theory

Design and Design Theory

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Craftspeople, Designers, Manufacturers
Edited by Bobbye Tigerman

Mid-twentieth-century California offered fertile ground for design innovations. The state’s reputation as a land of unlimited opportunity, its many institutions of higher learning, and its perpetually booming population created conditions that allowed designers and craftspeople to flourish. They found an eager market among educated and newly affluent Californians, and their products shaped the material culture of the entire nation. This book, a companion to the popular 2011 MIT Press/LACMA publication California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” reveals the complex web of influences, collaborations, institutional affiliations, and social networks that fueled the California design economy.
    
This book offers more than 140 illustrated biographical profiles of the most significant mid-century California designers, including such famous names as Saul Bass and Charles and Ray Eames as well as many lesser known but influential practitioners. These designers, craftspeople, and manufacturers worked in the full range of design media, creating furniture, fashion, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and graphic and industrial design. Each entry includes a succinct biography, a portrait of the designer or image of an important design, cross-references to other entries, and a list of sources for further research. Significant examples of California design and craft objects are featured in more than 180 illustrations and rare photographs.
    
Created by internationally renowned graphic designer Irma Boom, the book is a beautifully crafted object in its own right. It will become an indispensable resource for all those interested in modern design.

Referencing Various Small Books by Ed Ruscha

In the 1960s and 1970s, the artist Ed Ruscha created a series of small photo-conceptual artist’s books, among them Twentysix Gas Stations, Various Small Fires, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Thirtyfour Parking Lots, Real Estate Opportunities, and A Few Palm Trees. Featuring mundane subjects photographed prosaically, with idiosyncratically deadpan titles, these “small books” were sought after, collected, and loved by Ruscha’s fans and fellow artists. Over the past thirty years, close to 100 other small books that appropriated or paid homage to Ruscha’s have appeared throughout the world. This book collects ninety-one of these projects, showcasing the cover and sample layouts from each along with a description of the work. It also includes selections from Ruscha’s books and an appendix listing all known Ruscha book tributes.
    
These small books revisit, imitate, honor, and parody Ruscha in form, content, and title. Some rephotograph his subjects: Thirtyfour Parking Lots, Forty Years Later. Some offer a humorous variation: Various Unbaked Cookies (which concludes, as did Ruscha’s Various Small Fires, with a glass of milk), Twentynine Palms (twenty-nine photographs of palm-readers’ signs). Some say something different: None of the Buildings on Sunset Strip. Some reach for a connection with Ruscha himself: 17 Parked Cars in Various Parking Lots Along Pacific Coast Highway Between My House and Ed Ruscha’s.
    
With his books, Ruscha expanded the artist’s field of permissible subjects, approaches, and methods. With VARIOUS SMALL BOOKS, various artists pay tribute to Ed Ruscha and extend the legacy of his books.

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Insight through Inquiry

Interactive visualization is emerging as a vibrant new form of communication, providing compelling presentations that allow viewers to interact directly with information in order to construct their own understandings of it. Building on a long tradition of print-based information visualization, interactive visualization utilizes the technological capabilities of computers, the Internet, and computer graphics to marshal multifaceted information in the service of making a point visually. This book offers an introduction to the field, presenting a framework for exploring historical, theoretical, and practical issues. It is not a “how-to” book tied to specific and soon-to-be-outdated software tools, but a guide to the concepts that are central to building interactive visualization projects whatever their ultimate form.

The framework the book presents (known as the ASSERT model, developed by the author), allows the reader to explore the process of interactive visualization in terms of choosing good questions to ask; finding appropriate data for answering them; structuring that information; exploring and analyzing the data; representing the data visually; and telling a story using the data. Interactive visualization draws on many disciplines to inform the final representation, and the book reflects this, covering basic principles of inquiry, data structuring, information design, statistics, cognitive theory, usability, working with spreadsheets, the Internet, and storytelling.

The mobile device is changing the ways we interact with each other and with the world. The mobile experience is distinct from the desktop or laptop experience; mobile apps require a significantly different design philosophy as well as design methods that reflect the unique experience of computing in the world. This book presents an approach to designing mobile media that takes advantage of the Internet-connected, context-aware, and media-sharing capabilities of mobile devices. It introduces tools that can be used at every stage of building a mobile application, from concept creation to commercialization, as well as real-world examples from industry and academia.

The methods outlined apply user-centered design processes to mobile devices in a way that makes these methods relevant to the mobile experience--which involves the use of systems in the complex spatial and social world rather than at a desk. The book shows how each project begins with generative research into the practices and desires of a diverse set of potential users, which grounds research and design in the real world. It then describes methods for rapid prototyping, usability evaluation, field testing, and scaling up solutions in order to bring a product to market. Building Mobile Experiences grew out of an MIT course in communicating with mobile technology; it is appropriate for classroom use and as a reference for mobile app designers.

When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to “think pink!,” it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that has been unfolding for more than a century. In this book, the award-winning historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk traces the relationship of color and commerce, from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design, describing the often unrecognized role of the color profession in consumer culture.

Blaszczyk examines the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible. These “color stylists,” “color forecasters,” and “color engineers” helped corporations understand the art of illusion and the psychology of color. Blaszczyk describes the strategic burst of color that took place in the 1920s, when General Motors introduced a bright blue sedan to compete with Ford’s all-black Model T and when housewares became available in a range of brilliant hues. She explains the process of color forecasting--not a conspiracy to manipulate hapless consumers but a careful reading of cultural trends and consumer taste. And she shows how color information flowed from the fashion houses of Paris to textile mills in New Jersey.

Today professional colorists are part of design management teams at such global corporations as Hilton, Disney, and Toyota. The Color Revolution tells the history of how colorists help industry capture the hearts and dollars of consumers.

Pixels, Numbers, and Programs

This book explores image processing from several perspectives: the creative, the theoretical (mainly mathematical), and the programmatical. It explains the basic principles of image processing, drawing on key concepts and techniques from mathematics, psychology of perception, computer science, and art, and introduces computer programming as a way to get more control over image processing operations. It does so without requiring college-level mathematics or prior programming experience. The content is supported by PixelMath, a freely available software program that helps the reader understand images as both visual and mathematical objects.

The first part of the book covers such topics as digital image representation, sampling, brightness and contrast, color models, geometric transformations, synthesizing images, stereograms, photomosaics, and fractals. The second part of the book introduces computer programming using an open-source version of the easy-to-learn Python language. It covers the basics of image analysis and pattern recognition, including edge detection, convolution, thresholding, contour representation, and K-nearest-neighbor classification. A chapter on computational photography explores such subjects as high-dynamic-range imaging, autofocusing, and methods for automatically inpainting to fill gaps or remove unwanted objects in a scene. Applications described include the design and implementation of an image-based game.

The PixelMath software provides a “transparent” view of digital images by allowing the user to view the RGB values of pixels by zooming in on an image. PixelMath provides three interfaces: the pixel calculator; the formula page, an advanced extension of the calculator; and the Python window.

In Adversarial Design, Carl DiSalvo examines the ways that technology design can provoke and engage the political. He describes a practice, which he terms “adversarial design,” that uses the means and forms of design to challenge beliefs, values, and what is taken to be fact. It is not simply applying design to politics--attempting to improve governance, for example, by redesigning ballots and polling places; it is implicitly contestational and strives to question conventional approaches to political issues.

DiSalvo explores the political qualities and potentials of design by examining a series of projects that span design and art, engineering and computer science, agitprop and consumer products. He views these projects-- which include computational visualizations of networks of power and influence, therapy robots that shape sociability, and everyday objects embedded with microchips that enable users to circumvent surveillance--through the lens of agonism, a political theory that emphasizes contention as foundational to democracy. Each of these projects engages one of three categories as a medium--information, robots, and ubiquitous computing--and in each of them certain distinctive qualities of computation are used for political ends or to bring forth political issues. DiSalvo’s illuminating analysis aims to provide design criticism with a new approach for thinking about the relationship between forms of political expression, computation as a medium, and the processes and products of design.

China is on the verge of a design revolution. A “third generation” of the People’s Republic of China that came of age during China’s “opening up” period of the 1980s now strives for fame, fortune, and self expression. This generation, workers in their thirties and forties, has more freedom to create--and to consume--than their parents or grandparents. In China’s Design Revolution, Lorraine Justice maps the evolution of Chinese design and innovation.

Justice explains that just as this “third generation” (post-Revolution, post–Cultural Revolution) reaches for self-expression, China’s government is making massive investments in design and innovation, supporting design and creative activities (including design education programs, innovation parks, and privatized companies) at the local and national levels. The goal is to stimulate economic growth--and to establish China as a global creative power. Influenced by Mao and Confucius, communism and capitalism, patriotism and cosmopolitanism, China’s third generation will drive the culture of design and innovation in China--and maybe the rest of the world.

Justice describes and documents examples of Chinese design and innovation that range from ancient ceramics to communist propaganda posters. She then explores current award-winning projects in media, fashion, graphic, interior, and product design; and examines the lifestyle and purchasing trends of the “fourth generation,” now in their teens and twenties. China’s Design Revolution offers an essential guide to the inextricably entwined stories of design, culture, and politics in China.

Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice

Digital artifacts from iPads to databases pervade our lives, and the design decisions that shape them affect how we think, act, communicate, and understand the world. But the pace of change has been so rapid that technical innovation is outstripping design. Interactors are often mystified and frustrated by their enticing but confusing new devices; meanwhile, product design teams struggle to articulate shared and enduring design goals. With Inventing the Medium, Janet Murray provides a unified vocabulary and a common methodology for the design of digital objects and environments. It will be an essential guide for both students and practitioners in this evolving field.
Murray explains that innovative interaction designers should think of all objects made with bits--whether games or Web pages, robots or the latest killer apps--as belonging to a single new medium: the digital medium. Designers can speed the process of useful and lasting innovation by focusing on the collective cultural task of inventing this new medium. Exploring strategies for maximizing the expressive power of digital artifacts, Murray identifies and examines four representational affordances of digital environments that provide the core palette for designers across applications: computational procedures, user participation, navigable space, and encyclopedic capacity.
Each chapter includes a set of Design Explorations--creative exercises for students and thought experiments for practitioners--that allow readers to apply the ideas in the chapter to particular design problems. Inventing the Medium also provides more than 200 illustrations of specific design strategies drawn from multiple genres and platforms and a glossary of design concepts.

Eyeglasses have been transformed from medical necessity to fashion accessory. This revolution has come about through embracing the design culture of the fashion industry. Why shouldn't design sensibilities also be applied to hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, and communication aids? In return, disability can provoke radical new directions in mainstream design. Charles and Ray Eames's iconic furniture was inspired by a molded plywood leg splint that they designed for injured and disabled servicemen. Designers today could be similarly inspired by disability.

In Design Meets Disability, Graham Pullin shows us how design and disability can inspire each other. In the Eameses' work there was a healthy tension between cut-to-the-chase problem solving and more playful explorations. Pullin offers examples of how design can meet disability today. Why, he asks, shouldn't hearing aids be as fashionable as eyewear? What new forms of braille signage might proliferate if designers kept both sighted and visually impaired people in mind? Can simple designs avoid the need for complicated accessibility features? Can such emerging design methods as "experience prototyping" and "critical design" complement clinical trials?

Pullin also presents a series of interviews with leading designers about specific disability design projects, including stepstools for people with restricted growth, prosthetic legs (and whether they can be both honest and beautifully designed), and text-to-speech technology with tone of voice. When design meets disability, the diversity of complementary, even contradictory, approaches can enrich each field.

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