COMD3504 - Section OL10 - Spring 2021

Author: Stephen Seelal


Similar to our previous readings, the idea of designing with a purpose, with functionality at the forefront is what stood out to me. Josef Müller-BrockMann and Karl Gerstner both approached design in a systematic way – based on the use of grids. I think it is safe to say that they looked at grids as a way to create a design that is successful in being functional and direct. Gerstner said it best, “…not to make creative decisions as prompted by feeling but by intellectual criteria,” (58). When we are able to design with a purpose and without including our personal feelings, the creative process is that much greater.

Compared to Müller-BrockMann, Gerstner has a direct system when it comes to grids, in which he created the “the morphological box of the typogram.” A concept that allows one to follow a system within a design, to convey consistency. Müller-BrockMann’s approach is more general, he details the benefits of grids in his article and gives insight into how the grid system “implies the will to systematize” (63). He states, “Working with the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity,” (63). The grid systems gives one the ability to incorporate the qualities of a good design – a design that is essential, objective and has a sense of form. 

Jan Tschichold believed a great design is functional and sharp, consisting of elements that elevate the design. Typography should be the main focus of a design that includes a lot of text. The use of ornaments, as Tschichold often refers to in his piece, can be seen as a distraction or overpowering detail within a design. He directly makes this claim when he stated, “it is obvious that functional design means the abolition of the “ornamentation” that has reigned for centuries. . . .”.  When we design with a purpose and incorporate details that improve the functionality, we are able to develop a great design. Tschichold emphasized the importance of clarity through his article, a concept that plays a key role in design. A good design is clean and uncluttered, consisting of clear type and few font sizes. A design should present a sense of harmony, as all aspects in it tend relate to bounce off each other.


Marinetti’s writing was very descriptive and sort of like a narrative, at first I was not sure what the purpose of this was. His comparison of museums and cemeteries was interesting and a valid point, yet I don’t fully agree with him. His tone when he notes that people visit these places one a year came off as very sarcastic and as a fan of art museums I don’t really agree with his perspective. When Marnetti says, “To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action,” I take this as him questioning  whether or not we can make progress while showing appreciation for the past. While this is an interesting view, I think we can advance and make progress while being aware and learning about the past or “an old picture”. Rodchenko came off more direct to me, in regards to his view on technology and its impact. He focused on how changes can be made politically, culturally, and socially compared to Marinetti who covered society as a whole. Lissitzky’s writing was definitely easier to understand out of the three passages, his focus on books and how technology allowed for the production of books to be elevated was interesting. If I’m not mistaken, all three authors seem to have this similar view that we, as a society, consumers of art and designers must not be fixate on the past, but aim to strive for the future and continue to make progress. 

Feb 22 – Stephen, Rany, Carlton & Camila

As designers we should be aim to be socially aware of any issues and problems that are going on around us. We should strive to inspire those who will come across our work and get them to question the known. It is also our responsibility to know what is relevant and how we can make a difference with our work. It is our duty to appeal to the public and inform people of what’s going on in the world.

 Environmental safety, is one field that can and should intersect with design. To inform and communicate the importance of climate change and encourage people to be socially conscious is not only relevant but the right thing to do. It is our duty to appeal to the public and inform people of what’s going on in the world. The fine arts is also a field that should intersect with designs, as they can share the same elements and be inspiring. Fine art tends to focus on aesthetic, while we believe programming and engineering is based on functionality.

Design is related to language since both are based on communicating ideas or messages. While design can be more visual, they’re both a form of communicating. To be visually pleasing, legible and successfully convey an intended message or idea constitutes a good design. We believe a concept that may be viewed as offensive, biased and/or difficult to understand constitutes a bad design. Design is a visual language that communicates a well-thought out concept and inspires those who may come across it.

Stephen Seelal-Assignment 2

Language is a system in which connections are made through shared messages or ideas. The universal system of language consists of verbal, written and symbolic methods that are used to communicate. In order for connections to be made, all participants must be familiar and understand the specific words that are being used. Without that familiarity or mutual understanding, communication is lost and conflict can arise. What separates language from other forms of communication, is the fact that you truly have to understand the meaning of the words that the language consists of and how to correctly use them. 

Essentially, language is the basis behind symbols or icons. We understand common symbols or icons by connecting what is being depicted or represented to the words of our specific language, yet we do not have to speak the same language to use the same symbols or icons to communicate. Words that form a language are unique to that specific language, while icons or symbols can be seen as more universal and easy to comprehend. Icons and symbols tend to be literal and depict exactly what it represents,. For example, we can assume that an icon depicting a flame is expressing that something is very hot. Two people do not have to speak the same language to both understand that the flame equates to that surface or object to being hot and that they should proceed with caution. 

Signifiers, the signified and the sign are the main components of successful communication, they work together to get spread ideas and messages. The signifier is the sound associated with that idea or concept, while the signified is the actually concept. The sign combines both elements of the signifier and the signified to create an object that represents something unique. In relation to design and graphic communication, this is the root of logo design and branding, to construct a concept that is so unique and specific, it can be easily recognized. 

Language has shaped design historically, being one of the main components of sharing messages or ideas. Through language, communication can be made and brands can appeal to the masses. In today’s culture, where social media is dominant and everything is shared at a fast pace, language does play a key role, but we are continuing to stray away from the use of use of words. Logos, icons, easy to understand visuals is what is works in today’s culture, where popular trends and technology continues to advance rapidly and people continue to have short attention spans. 

What I found to be most interesting from the readings was given that language is something that inherited, the question that lingers is whether or not the laws of the language that are passed down can be modified. I do think as time progresses and advances are made through generations, these laws that shared do change in some ways, whether intentional or not.

Assignment 1B

According to both Armstrong and Munari, designers should design with purpose and play a beneficial role within society. To be informative and present relevant ideas without bias or personal feelings, is the most successful way to contribute to society. Munari directly expresses this concept when he states, “the designer is therefore the artist of today, not because he is a genius but because he works in such a way as to reestablish contact between art and the public…” (32). With this in mind, a sense of harmony amongst functionality and aesthetic can be made when designing. What distinguishes the field or fields of design from other creative occupations, is the need to maintain relevancy. Views and opinions are forever changing, designers have to keep up with trends.

Designers should concern themselves with unsolvable theoretical questions, that way they are able to play a relevant role in their field and be able to seek inspiration by questioning the known. When one thinks outside of the box, they are able to expand their perspective and come up with new ideas and concepts. According to Armstrong, the role technology plays in shaping design is enabling “a new kind of universal language…” (13). Through technology, designers are able to direct their focus on their content and message. They are given the opportunity to focus on imperative issues, such as “sustainability and social justice” (13). With the help of technology, artists are able to access a variety of sources and programs. This is a huge benefit and allows designers to create a faster pace. 

The most urgent problems facing designers today are the challenges of creating work that is relevant, yet conjures new ideas/concepts and being able to adapt and change to the fast paced environment. As Armstrong stated, “Technology is fundamentally altering our culture,” (9). The world of design consists of a wide range of techniques and ideas that help us express our ideas and spread the message we intended to. We need prepare for what is to come in the future, while being aware of what is currently happening.