COMD3504 - Section OL69 - Spring 2022

Discussion 2a: Why Theory?

Here is the asynchronous presentation for this week. Please note that several questions are posed throughout. Everyone should post at least one Comment in response to those questions on this post.

The final, more difficult question, should be addressed in a separate discussion Post.


  1. Iqra Bhatti

    To begin with, professor, both of these readings were wonderful for learning about theory and the designer lifestyle. Also, you make an excellent point about the theory being something that solves problems. The theory has been helpful in teaching us how to construct something we couldn’t envision before. It aids us in overcoming obstacles. The Theory of creating something new in order to bridge the gap between the designer and non-designer worlds. Great idea on generating what your clients want in order to build something that they believe will help them. I particularly liked the point about discussing political questions; it’s a great way of coming up with your own idea and doing your own work. because our peers and designers are from a different country and speak a different language. Each of us has our own way of looking at design.

  2. Sadman

    I agree with you professor, towards the beginning of the presentation you mentioned that solutions to unsolvable questions are not always the best ones whether it’s for design or other platforms. As we mentioned earlier, a designer deals with questions and tries to come up with the best solution possible but the term “best” may apply only to that particular designer and others may have their own answers that they think are the best. Therefore, the theory is important in every form of work where workers try to solve difficult questions. Having a good theory is very crucial especially for questions that are impossible to solve, coming up with a theory based on the knowledge and understanding of the work will always produce exceptional work. Although having a very good theory may not solve the problem perfectly but it will take it very close to the perfect solution. I also agree that design is mostly political, since designers work in groups every individual is different and will have different theories based on their culture, countries, language, ethnicity, etc. on approaching the work. The overall theory is very important for solving difficult questions.

  3. Chaochao

    After watching the first half of the video I think your point is excellent. We have different perspectives and views on design between different designers and people. Often when such problems are difficult to solve, theory can help us solve problems and create good solutions that everyone can accept. Just like the costumes of the staff of the Winter Olympics held in China recently, many people do not understand or even think they are not good-looking and think that the costumes of the Chinese Han nationality should be used instead. But after reading the answers given by the designer, everyone felt that the design was very reasonable. Because there are 56 ethnic groups, Han national costumes do not represent China. The designer combined many elements that can represent China to design such a design and the theory makes everyone feel that such a design is reasonable. This shows that theory is very important. Everyone has different views and design methods. Only by discussing the viewpoints of the problems can we solve them better.

  4. Angela

    Both readings were very interesting and gave me a new perspective on design and design theory. To answer your question honestly, the readings took me a while to understand. It could have been that I was reading too fast and not retaining information or I simply didn’t understand it. Annotating and defining some of the words in the readings really helped me get a clear understanding of what I was reading and I will most likely use that method moving forward. My thoughts on collective authorship are that design, like you said, is a collective process and you are sharing your work and working with other people on your designs and ideas. I think it’s perfectly okay for designers to put their name on their work if they worked on it themselves. For example, if you’re working in a group setting then collective authorship would apply but if you’re an individual then you don’t need to credit anyone else or have someone else claim authorship of the design or the work. To comment on politics in design, I don’t necessarily believe that politics is in every aspect of design. I think there are many politics in design but not in every single design created. Your political view doesn’t necessarily show up in your work, for example, if you’re just drawing a dragon I’m not sure how that could be seen as political. With that being said I don’t think that I would be able to work for or with a company that had different values from my own. For example, I don’t want to work with a company that doesn’t support gay rights or environmental issues. You stated that some high ranking members in AT&T have funded the people who stormed the capital and much like your friend, I don’t think I would be able to continue to work for that company because of that. I think theories in design can allow the designer to broaden their thoughts because they will begin to ask themselves questions. Asking questions can lead to solving problems in a design and it’s really important for a designer to constantly question and theorize in order to grow and learn.

  5. Maria

    Definitely agree with you professor when you raise the question about “Why Theory?”. It’s important for designers to solve the problems and come up with solutions to that specific problem. It almost forces the designer to think of creative ways to solve the issue. I also think that designers also raise awareness to certain problems and are able to solve them on their own as well. This sortve ties into design being political. If a designer brings awareness to any political issue, gun violence for example, they are making people aware of this issue even more so through their design. So designers can solve problems for other people with their skills but at the same time bring awareness to certain other types of problems with their skill. (Hopefully that makes sense!). And with that comes Helen Armstrong’s theory of social responsibility. What kind of message are you putting out there and like what you said professor, “Do your messages carry weight?”. Designers should be aware of the impact that they can have especially when presenting to the world a political design. I also just think that its very interesting that avant-garde originally started out so traditional but honestly it devolved into something simpler. It deconstructed itself into its simplest forms and it influenced how we design today.

  6. Gloria Rosario

    This was a great video with a lot of good information, Thank you Professor. Something that really stood out to me is the way design and politics go hand in hand. Design has been use for centuries to influence people and for this reason designers play a big role in politics and depending on the message this can be good/bad and in a way I think is hard to escape the influence politics has over design. Regarding your friend experience working for that big company. I think that it is very hard to work for a company that doesn’t align with my values. I believe that a lot of people choose to be designers because there is freedom in this career and can be fun. Moreover, One of Helen Armstrong’s points stuck with me about how universal should design be because I do believe that it is possible to create a design that can be understood around the world. Something as simple as a painting with the peace sign symbol I think that it can be understood around the world. Lastly, I think that deciding what is good and bad design is tricky, specially these days because what is bad for me, is a good for someone else and people interpret things differently, I think that here is a public for everything.

  7. Guen Fung

    From the reading from the two articles on Week One, it is a bit more to read than a normal design article. It went more in depths but in general, they follow the same concepts. Both readings have very similar information about design. The world they lived in their time. To the world, they lived in when they published their writings. But the tricky part comes from how they show their importance. As this preferences from one person to another. An example of this would be Ellen Lupton’s Forward to Graphic Design Theory. With their perspective to raise questions in political form, philosophy, and aesthetics. This method of design is what she values over someone who is also in the design field. Like one could overlook political views or someone that would go against themselves. This is also seen in Helen Armstrong in Introduction to Graphic Design Theory. Valuing collective authorship and social responsibility. Avant-garde is inspirational to explore more and different unique ideas. This allows you to be ahead of the curveball, allowing you to set new trends. Whether it works or not, the whole importance of experimenting is to embrace it.

    I enjoy the concept of working with political views and whatnot. Only because it is good practice and being able to be flexible about your options is never a bad thing.

  8. Xiaofei Wang

    “Why Theory?” In my opinion, for designers, the purpose of design theory is not just to create, but to summarize what has happened or is happening. Designers can systematically sort out their own design ideas by studying the theories in books and summarizing their own theories, and then create. The process of design is the behavior that we combine all of our knowledge, experience and talent to solve problems and achieve goals. For instance, photographers need to learn photography theory, after understanding shutter, aperture and ISO, combined with the composition concept and light and shadow they want to present, finally can shoot a piece of work. Theoretical knowledge is just the foundation part to the photographer through overall process. Same as designers, through continuous technical practice and theoretical study, designers form their own systematic views to shoot their “photograph” better.

  9. Ebony Derrick

    We all have different thought processes and view each design differently that the next person despite who the designer is. When there’s a situation that can’t be solved, often times we rely on theory and visually looking at the possible solutions. Designers have multiple ways of creating pieces that also give important information to their viewers in thousands of different ways from visually, through typography, and more. It’s been used for decades and overtime became more important since it’s a way we take in information wherever we go. Many people may choose to be designers because it allows them to explore more with their creativity skills and can have fun creating the designs for each project despite some artist or creativity block. I believe that no matter what design is created that many people across the globe can understand it and interpret the information the design is giving. Each design is created in the way that the design has a reason and a meaning to it which gives it weight, making it more effective.

  10. Simonlei

    Commenting on weather we enjoyed the reading or not, I personally enjoy the reading because its most importantly something that peaks my interest, and is explained clearly. The text is easy to digest and informal in terms of details. To answer one of the questions mentioned in the video “what role should politics play in design?” I would say minimal. The reason behind my answering is due to the nature of everyone having different view points, and including politics can deterere others from your work. As designers we create to serve the public. We want our work to be noticed and enjoyed by many. But once you bring in politics and personally opinions to the subject, it causes separation. Granted you can not care about what others think and design what you believe in, but be prepared for defend your work.

  11. Andrew Bien-Aime

    I was thinking about the question after viewing this video. “What is the point of theory?” I agree with your statement at the start of the video. All forms of creativity, in some way, provide a solution. The theory is a system of ideas designed to explain something, while the design is the efficient visual conveyance of an idea or concept. In other words, design theory is a set of ideas that explains how and why a design works. Designing, in my opinion, is all about addressing problems and finding the greatest answer. Anything will be regarded as a design if this notion is not realized. People will develop a design that serves no function or is incomprehensible. To create a successful design, a designer must have excellent design and problem-solving abilities.

  12. Andrew

    I was thinking about the question after viewing this video. “What is the point of theory?” I agree with your statement at the start of the video. All forms of creativity, in some way, provide a solution. The theory is a system of ideas designed to explain something, while the design is the efficient visual conveyance of an idea or concept. In other words, design theory is a set of ideas that explains how and why a design works. Designing, in my opinion, is all about addressing problems and finding the greatest answer. Anything will be regarded as a design if this notion is not realized. People will develop a design that serves no function or is incomprehensible. To create a successful design, a designer must have excellent design and problem-solving abilities.

  13. Yiqiang Wang

    Many people think that theory is not important, but I don’t agree with this view. On the contrary, I think theory is very important for design, because theory can help designers become better. It’s very difficult to design from zero, which takes a long time to summarize problems, but theory can help designers, because they can learn the design theory summarized by predecessors, Designers make themselves become excellent designers through imitation and absorption theory. In addition, theory is also very important when designers explain design to customers, because customers may not know what design is, so designers need to provide more theory and evidence to explain it. Design theory also plays a great role for designers, that is to help designers solve problems. Design is very difficult. Designers often encounter many difficult problems. At this time, theory can help designers. Designers can think about problems on the basis of design theory and finally solve problems.

  14. Shayne Coley

    After watching your video I agree with most of your points especially the political assets of theory. We tend to distance ourselves from politics in any sort of media or job oriented position. However I believe that politics can play a big part in design. Politics can be used to resonate with your audience which in return would increase the amount of clients you attract. However rather then question if we should include politics to our design we should focus on the topic of , if too much politics in our design is good or bad. I personally believe it can go both ways design can be about anything it solely depends on the type of client you want or have . Also I agree that part of theory can be used to ask questions and come up with solutions to certain problems. This can help use understand and overcome whatever obstacles we face in design .

  15. Nathalie Quito

    Although I’m still trying to understand the definition of theory, from the video I got that a theories purpose is meant to encourage questions and stimulate deep thinking about the topic at hand. In this case, design theory would encourage designers to further invest in why something is designed the way it is. Anyone else would simply look at a poster or design and see a superficial reason, while a designer tries to understand type, color choice, proportional decisions. A designer would try to analyze and understand why every design choice was made overall. It is also like the way you explained that design is very theoretical because designers are presented with problems that cant be proven right/wrong necessarily but can always be answered anyway differently. Than theres aspects where external factors such as the political example can effect the designers choice.

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