Graphic Design Research

KNOWHERE: Finding Ways to Teach Wayfinding
10/28/2014

Samantha Perkins
Miami University (Ohio)

ABSTRACT
Breadcrumbs. Wayfinding, an amazing tool, deals with providing navigational “breadcrumbs” to travelers, helping them find their way between locations. Speaking the language of space, information, shape, and form, wayfinding addresses the communication of information within the realms of graphic design, architecture and interior design. But sometimes problems in clear communication arise, especially when the behavioral aspects of human navigation are overlooked. Luckily, we can address these issues early... Assuming we rethink the current wayfinding education model, and teach beyond the book.

By considering issues of navigation behavior, we can establish a wayfinding education model that seeks to help explain the how and the why behind navigation, regardless of the ultimate where. But how do we teach behavior and context in the static environment of a standard classroom? KNOWHERE, an immersive education model designed to teach wayfinding in a more hands-on manner, uses graphic design to establish educational events that communicate ideas of design elements in an immersive context and environment. Through the use of exhibit design and mobile studio equipment, the KNOWHERE model pulls students out of their chairs and immerses them in the world of wayfinding in ways that encourage exploration and creative analysis.

Bridging EGD: Introducing Communities to the Potentials of Environmental Graphic Design
10/28/2014

Justin Molloy
The University of Oklahoma

ABSTRACT
This paper discusses the potential for environmental graphic design (EGD) in emergent and small communities where both EGD and the value of design are unknown. When designers arrive in a community for the first time, they tend to notice things other people do not. Things like how information and experiences are integrated into a cityscape or neighborhood, or how a vision of a community shapes the delivery of their identity or message. When I arrived in Oklahoma nearly a year ago, I was told that there were huge opportunities for design to make an impact. Designers in Oklahoma are aware of what could be possible, but “the bridge” to make design a community focus had to date not been completed. Leaders in these communities have not been connected to the full potential that design offers. Without this knowledge base, the users of these communities do not understand what design is. A common misunderstanding that complicates matters is that design is equated as marketing. Design is mistakenly understood as the way to “dress things up” or make something “eye catching.” The incomplete part of “the bridge” is the notion that design can be a transformative mechanism that goes beyond the surface, and has the capacity to change the way we experience our present moment and envision our future.

Storefronts: Lettering & Digital Technologies in the Urban Landscape
10/27/2014

Patricia Cue
San Diego State University

ABSTRACT
Commercial storefronts play a vital role in signposting and broadcasting the cultural identity of the urban landscape. Storefront signs address basic commercial communication needs such as naming and stating the type of business, marking the location, advertising services, and attracting customers. But they also fulfill a more important need: expressing the characteristics of a given culture, and defining how that culture is represented visually. They add flavor and authenticity. They let us know, culturally and geographically, where we are.

How a culture is perceived is largely determined by how it is presented. As cultural readers and interpreters, we look for signs and symbols to help us make sense of the space around us. In an ethnic urban landscape, commercial storefront signs are powerful coded symbols that communicate a wealth of cultural information. Sign painting has traditionally been the most common and effective means of conveying that information. In the past, such signs would have been hand-painted. However, since the introduction of plastic materials, and with the dominance of digital technologies, traditional sign painting has declined in popularity, especially in major commercial centers, where it is rarely, if ever, seen. But in many ethnic areas, sign painting has managed to survive as a vernacular form of design that operates on the margins of professional design practice.

This project examines the “membrane” that separates vernacular and professional graphic design, by investigating a particular form of indigenous hand-painted murals that advertise folk music concerts in rural Mexico, and by surveying the current state of storefront designs along University Avenue and San Ysidro Boulevard in San Diego, California. The main objective is to develop models for commercially competitive design solutions that translate the visual language of traditional handmade lettering into modern sign-making technologies and materials, in order to explore culturally sensitive ways to brand small businesses in ethnic pockets within urban areas. By creating design alternatives in the form of prototypes that expand the possibilities of modern technology, this project aims to foster cultural vitality and economic prosperity for small ethnic businesses, and to advocate for the preservation of visual diversity.

From Signs to Minds: Wayfinding Design and Mental Maps
10/27/2014

Michaela Skiles

ABSTRACT
When following directional signs through a new area, how much do people actually learn about the environment around them? How could you design directional signs to help people learn more? This study examines how the design of directional signs influences spatial learning, by presenting information in different spatial perspectives.

Three sign types were evaluated: Separate (directional arrows, with roads and towns on different signs), Combined (simple arrow diagrams of the intersection, with roads and towns on one sign), and Cartographic (a highly simplified map). Participants viewed a sequence of signs as if driving through a fictional environment, making turn choices according to assigned goals, and then completed a mapping task. After a second sign viewing, this time without turn decisions, participants repeated the mapping task.

For the first mapping task, participants who viewed the Cartographic signs produced more accurate maps than those viewing the Separate or Combined signs. These results suggest that guide signs with simple maps can help people incidentally learn about the spatial configuration of the environment. There was no significant difference between groups for the second mapping task, which suggests that when people are aware that they will be tested, sign type does not affect how much they can learn.

This study not only has implications for the design of directional signs, but is also an example of linking research in spatial cognition with wayfinding as a design discipline. Carried out as an undergraduate thesis, this study is evidence of an effective interdisciplinary approach to design education.

An Interior and Graphic Design Interdisciplinary Collaboration
10/27/2014

Miranda Hall and Nicole Bieak Kreidler
La Roche College

ABSTRACT
Design has undergone many changes over the past several decades. What was once a trade activity is now a practice-based profession that has diversified into very distinct disciplines (Buchanan, 1998). Design disciplines have worked independently until recently, when interdisciplinary collaboration has become increasingly valuable. Studies have shown that collaborative efforts can produce new and original ideas not possible in a uni-disciplinary setting (Nelson, Wilson and Yen, 2009). Too often design education lags behind what is happening within the design profession and it is for this reason that this collaboration was initiated. The decision to plan the interdisciplinary collaboration came out of a discussion of the crossover of content topics within two courses in the Design Division at La Roche College. After additional conversations and planning, it was also driven by the desire to better integrate students and initiate them as co-creators.

Design Innovations through Collaborative Research Methods
10/02/2014

University of Cincinnati

ABSTRACT
Technology is presenting new opportunities for designers and educators to collaborate in developing tools for reading instruction. This paper shares a collaborative research study that leveraged visual communication design, reading literacy, and educational psychology research to help teach early reading skills through a multi-sensory experiential learning tool. This study demonstrates how collaboration and design problem-solving can contribute to addressing communication design problems and developing experiential learning methods.

Full Immersion: Beyond the Page + Screen Transforming Traditional Design Curriculum with Experiential Graphic Design
10/02/2014

New Media
University of Idaho College of Art & Architecture

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the potential for integrating Experiential Graphic Design (XGD) within the context of a traditional graphic design/visual communication curriculum. This shift will better prepare students to work in a constantly evolving, competitive, and expanding field of design. Through documented student projects, we explored the development of XGD strategies and methodologies through the blending of traditional graphic design foundations, interactive, and time-based media that transform a user experience beyond the page and screen. The success of this type of new curriculum model is made possible by the co-location of art, design, new media, and architecture in an interdisciplinary college.

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