UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts
Desma 10 | Design Culture - an Introduction
Professor Erkki Huhtamo
T.A. s Olga Balema, Lisa Bouti, Madeleine Gallagher, Anne Mc Caddon, Jean Murachanian
Fall Quarter 2008

download syllabus [PDF]

Syllabus: Design Culture - an Introduction

DESCRIPTION

Design is a powerful force in contemporary society and culture. It surrounds us whatever we do and wherever we go. It has an impact on us, whether we are aware of it or not. It is not easy to provide a definition for all the things the word “design” is supposed to denote. It is becoming increasingly difficult – for some, impossible - to say where design ends and phenomena like art, architecture and popular media begin. One thing is certain: design is not just about creating “cool looking" things; it is about much more. Among other things, it is an ideology that affects our ways of seeing the world. It is also a form of communication - by creating or using certain designs we send messages about ourselves to others. Desma 10 provides a broad overview of the phenomena that make up design culture. It demonstrates that design does not only mean the "high design" of famous star designers and design companies. The most efficient design is often invisible - devices like door knobs and traffic lights help us without drawing attention to themselves as design(ed) objects. To understand design culture we must pay attention to invisible things as well. We also have to explain the motives that guide their planning, their marketing, their reception and their uses. The lectures will discuss the main movements and trends of design as a cultural and social phenomenon. Particular emphasis will be given to the interconnections between design and technology. The relationship between design and art will also be explored in various contexts from the Victorian era and early 20th century modernism to the 1960s pop culture and Postmodernism. A rich array of demonstration material ranging from classical industrial design to recent postmodern design trends will be presented.

CLASS SCHEDULE

Meeting 1 (Sep. 26) What is and What Isn't Design?

Keywords: / Definitions of design and culture / Design, nature, culture / Design and cultural difference / Design and sustainable development / Visible and invisible design
Readings: No

Meeting 2 (Oct. 3) Design Culture Basics
Keywords: High and Low Design / Design and Art / Etymology of the word “design” /The Beginnings of Design Culture

Readings: 1) John Heskett: “What is Design?”, from Heskett: Toothpicks and Logos. Design in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp.1-11;

2) Victor Papanek: “What is Design? A Definition of the Function Complex”, from Papanek: Design for the Real World, Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 2000 [1985], pp. 3-27.

 

Meeting 3 (Oct. 10) Design, Society and Technology

Keywords: Function and ornament / mass production and assembly lines / designer and engineer / Mechanisation and automation / Design and power / Streamlining

Readings: Erkki Huhtamo: "From Cybernation to Interaction: A Contribution to an Archaeology of Interactivity", The Digital Dialectic. New Essays on New Media, ed. Peter Lunenfeld, Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1999, pp. 96-110, 250-256.

 

Meeting 4 (Oct. 17) SPECIAL SESSION: The Great UCLA Design Game 2.0
Readings:
Erkki Huhtamo: Semiotics Handout (available on the class website)

 

Meeting 5 (Oct. 24) Design for Public Spaces
Keywords: The Dream of Total Design / Art Nouveau / Konstructivism: design as political spectacle / Skyscrapers / World’s Fairs
Readings: Erkki Huhtamo: "Gigantological Investigations", excerpts. Will be published in Interface Aesthetics (Nai Publishers, 2009) @ Erkki Huhtamo 2008.

 

Meeting 6 (Oct. 31) Design, Consumers and Corporations
Keywords: Designing and marketing consumer goods / “built-in obsolescence” / corporate design and branding.
Readings:Naomi Klein: "New Branded World," from NO LOGO, London, New York and Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2001, pp.2-26.
  
MIDTERM  PROJECTS TO BE HANDED IN OCT. 31

 

Meeting 7 (Nov. 7) Alternative Design Movements
Keywords: Design and pop culture / Underground and psychedelia / Punk, Situationism / Design as weapon / Sustainable design
Readings:
1) Jonathan M. Woodham: “Pop to Post-Modernism: Changing Values”, from Woodham: Twentieth-Century Design, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 182-203 (Oxford History of Art)
2) Naomi Klein: "Culture Jamming: Ads under Attack," from NO LOGO, London, New York and Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2001, pp.278-309.

 

Meeting 8 (Nov. 14) Design in the Postmodern Era I

Keywords: Keywords: / Design and art - blurred boundaries / Designer as “Superstar” / Emotional Design / Design within media culture
Readings:
1) Philip Nobel: "Art/Architecture; Can Design In American Avoid the Style Trap?" The New York Times, November 26, 2000.
2) Paola Antonelli: "Design and the Elastic Mind," from Design and the Elastic Mind, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008, pp.14-27.

Meeting 9 (Nov. 21) SPECIAL SESSION: A Peek at the Design Process.

Reading: No

------- Nov. 28 Thanksgiving Holiday, No Meeting -----------------

Meeting 10 (Dec. 5) Design in the Postmodern Era II
Proliferation of (de)sign / Interface design / Wearables, mobile interfaces / Design, surface, skin.


Readings:
Ellen Lupton: "Skin, New Design Organics", from Skin. Surface Substance + Design, New York: Princeton Architectural Press and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Smithsonian Institution, 2002, pp.28-41.


FINAL PROJECTS TO BE HANDED IN DEC. 5!

 

FINALS WEEK: NO MEETING!

 

GRADING AND ASSIGNMENTS

There will be a midterm assignment and a final assignment. The midterm is a homework to be realized individually. The final assignment will be a creative groupwork (4-5 people in a group). The exact topics will be announced later. There will also be three multiple choice quizzes based on the previous week’s lecture and / or the assigned readings. Missing one (1) of the quizzes will not affect the grade. There will also be a Special Session, “The Great UCLA Design Game”. The grading consists of the midterm assignment (30 %), the final assignment (50 %), the quizzes (10%) and the Great UCLA Design Game (10%). More than two absences (without the instructor's permission) will lower the final grade by one step per absence (-). Extraordinary participation in the class meetings may increase the final grade by one step (+).

TEXTS

REQUIRED READINGS:

1. A reader which will be available for purchase at CopyMat, Westwood Village, 925 Westwood Boulevard (cross street Le Conte), tel. 310 - 824 5276 .


2. John Heskett: Industrial Design. London: Thames & Hudson, 2001. Available for purchase at the Lu Valle book store, North Campus.


The student is expected to buy both the reader and Heskett’s book. A limited number of copies of both will be on reserve for consultation at the Arts Library (Public Policy Building).

 

RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READINGS:


The following books are recommended as additional readings. Whenever possible, copies are on reserve at the Arts Library (Public Policy Building):


- The Art of Experimental Interaction Design. Edited by Andy Cameron. IdN Special 04. Hong Kong: Systems Design Limited Shop, 2004.


- Corn, Joseph J. & Horrigan, Brian: Yesterday's Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press 1996.


- Danesi, Marcel: Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things. An Introduction to Semiotics. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999


- Design History. A Students' Handbook. Edited by Hazel Conway. London and New York: Routledge, 1999 (orig.1987).


- Flusser, Vilém: The Shape of Things. A Philosophy of Design, London: Reaktion Books, 1999.


- Forty, Adrian: Objects of Desire. Design and Society 1750-1980. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986.


- Gorman, John Michael: Buckminster Fuller. Designing for Mobility. Milano: Skira Editore, 2005.


- Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History. Edited by Mildred Friedman and Phil Freshman. Minneapolis and New York: Walker Art Center and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1989.


- Heskett, John: Toothpicks and Logos: Design in Everyday Life, Oxford University Press, 2002.


- Julier, Guy: The Culture of Design, Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2000.


- Klein, Naomi, NO LOGO, London, New York and Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2001.


-Lupton, Ellen: Mechanical Brides. Women and Machines from Home to Office. Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design/Smithsonian Institution and Princeton Architectural Press, 1993.


- Lupton, Ellen and Miller, J. Abbott: Design Writing Research. Writings on Graphic Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996 (A Kiosk Book).


- Lupton, Ellen: Skin. Surface Substance + Design, New York: Princeton Architectural Press and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Smithsonian Institution, 2002.


- Margolin, Victor: The Politics of the Artificial: Essays on Design and Design Studies, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.


- Mijksenaar, Paul and Westendorp, Piet: Open Here. The Art of Instructional Design. New York: Joost Elffers Books, 1999.
- Norman, Donald A.: The Design of Everyday Things. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1998.


- Norman, Donald A.: Emotional Design, New York: Basic Books, 2004.


- Papanek, Victor: Design for the Real World, Second Edition, Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1985.


- Petroski, Henry: Invention by Design. How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1996.


- Sparke, Penny: An Introduction to Design & Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

 

CLASS MEETINGS

Fridays from 9:00am to 11:50am at Haines 39.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Prof. Huhtamo: by email (erhuhta@ucla.edu) or during office hours (Thursdays, 12:30 - 1:30pm, Dept. of Design | Media Arts, Broad Art Center, room 3251).

The T.A.'s and their office hours:


- Olga Balema, Thursdays, 5:15-6:15, Café Untitled, Broad Art Center
- Lisa Boutin, Wednesdays, 9-10am, Dodd 50
- Madeleine Gallagher, Thursdays, 1-2 pm, Café Untitled, Broad Art Center
- Anne McCadden, Mondays, 11:30-12:30, Café Untitled, Broad Art Center
- Jean Murachanian Fridays, 1-2pm, Café Untitled, Broad Art Center

The TA's email address is posted in the downloadable syllabus. Each student will be assigned one of the T.A's as the primary contact person. For minor issues and questions it is recommended to use e-mail. Contact your assigned T.A first.

READER

Table of Contents

1. John Heskett: “What is Design?”, from Heskett: Toothpicks and Logos. Design in Everyday Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp.1-11.


2. Victor Papanek: “What is Design? A Definition of the Function Complex”, from Papanek: Design for the Real World, Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 2000 [1985], pp. 3-27.


3. Erkki Huhtamo: "From Cybernation to Interaction: A Contribution to an Archaeology of Interactivity", The Digital Dialectic. New Essays on New Media, ed. Peter Lunenfeld, Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1999, pp. 96-110, 250-256.


4. Erkki Huhtamo: "Gigantological Investigations", excerpts. Will be published in Interface Aesthetics (Nai Publishers, 2009) @ Erkki Huhtamo 2008.


5. Naomi Klein: "New Branded World," from NO LOGO, London, New York and Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2001, pp.2-26.


6. Jonathan M. Woodham: “Pop to Post-Modernism: Changing Values”, from Woodham: Twentieth-Century Design, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 182-203 (Oxford History of Art).


7. Naomi Klein: "Culture Jamming: Ads under Attack," from NO LOGO, London, New York and Toronto: Harper Perennial, 2001, pp.278-309.


8. Philip Nobel: "Art/Architecture; Can Design In American Avoid the Style Trap?" The New York Times, November 26, 2000.


9. Paola Antonelli: "Design and the Elastic Mind," from Design and the Elastic Mind, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008, pp.14-27.


10. Ellen Lupton: "Skin, New Design Organics", from Skin. Surface Substance + Design, New York: Princeton Architectural Press and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Smithsonian Institution, 2002, pp.28-41.