Throughout history design has had one main function which is communicating a message. How this message is communicated has changed over the years and is also dependent on the culture it is made for. From reading Graphic Design Theory by Helen Armstrong, design is more than just creating something that is aesthetically pleasing, but it is something that helps shape our society. Before reading this chapter what I knew about design was that I had to solve a problem and know how to organize information and create something out of it. To my surprise that isn’t the case. From what Armstrong taught me, as designers we have a social responsibility since we are actively engaging with the public through our work. Advertisements, posters, and logos are just a few of the things we design that interact with people. According to Armstrong, “ Designers are actively engaging their societies politically and culturally, increasingly thinking globally inside a tightly networked world.” This specific part started making me think about how design not only changes over time but changes based on what is currently happening in society. Especially today in our society we are facing many issues such as climate change and politics. It is events like these that impact how we design and the messages that we send out into the world. You also see this happening in the past as well like many art movements for example, Abstract expressionism which emerged after World War two. This is how new design strategies are made, by looking at the past and seeing what has been already done we can create something new as society continues to evolve.
Counting Sheep, Period Styles, Language of Dreams and Language of Vision by Ellen Lupton & J. Abbott Miller also explores the idea of communication in design and how it has evolved over time. From the number of art history classes that I have taken I have never come across the idea of archaic writing. From reading Counting Sheep design has played a huge role in how people used to count back then. For example, according to the reading “Groups on a tally stick might be indicated with larger or smaller cuts, or straight lines and diagonals.” The simple design of a few lines and diagonals show how there is a relationship between a symbol and the meaning behind it. The symbol sometimes isn’t the exact representation of the item but we know what item it represents. We see this pattern evolving throughout many different civilizations and eventually creating a language based on symbols. Even today in our modern society we still see this. For example, emojis are symbols that we use while texting and the meaning behind them is universally known. This reading made me consider how this translates to other things in design and the first thing I thought of was logos. We design logos to represent a brand but broken down a logo is just a symbol. One of the most popular logos that everyone knows is Target. It’s simply two red circles that represent a target and this symbol is something that everyone knows the meaning of but most importantly is associated with the brand Target. As a designer knowing what archaic writing and counting principles are you get a better understanding of what symbols are and how they are a part of language.
As a designer, understanding the history of design is important and especially when it comes to the style of how people wrote back then. While reading Period Styles I came across many interesting things, such as how early Greek and Latin were written with no space in between and in all caps. This brought me back to my typography class where the first thing I learned was to never use all caps for body copy. I was shocked and surprised to see how far writing has evolved over time with the introduction to paragraphs, commas, colons, and even periods. All of these small things that we now take for granted not knowing how these did not exist at one point. It definitely made me appreciate them more because it not only makes reading and writing easier but, it makes me wonder if there might be more change to language in the future or maybe there already has been a change and we just aren’t aware of it.