Week 1: Applied Design

As graphic designers, it is our job to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary, whether it is a simple logo to a magazine layout. We are hired to think outside the box to come up with creative designs for whatever the project. When we get hired for a specific job in mind, it is called applied design because we are creating with a certain concept already in mind, compared to when we create something just for the fun of it. An example everybody can understand would be if you were hired by a company that wants you to make a sign, say… a bathroom sign. With that in mind you would think about all the restroom signs you’ve seen and how they all look relatively the same. This would be considered a universal design, something that everyone knows and a design that everybody associates with the same thing. You could go the typical route with the sign and make it look like the rest. Example:

Here is an example of someone who took this universal sign and turned it into something unique and eye catching.

Moving away from universal and implied design we come across experimental design which mixes lots of different design fields, though it is mostly a mix of graphic and web design. An example of experimental design would be 3D projection mapping. It’s becoming so popular that the fashion industry has even started to use this design idea to promote their clothing.

Moving on we have way finding systems, which are basically detailed maps. You’ve seen them before in malls and other places that are larger in scale and are easy to get lost in. There are some really great way finding systems out there that are really creative and easy to read such as this example…

But then there are some way finding systems that are hard to read and are just not that creative. This is usually the case when a designer doesn’t want the maps to take away from the overall aesthetic of the room.

This sign is great for people walking by it but if you were in a car you would have no idea what you are looking at because the type is so small.

In the near future way finding systems may become obsolete because people are using their smart phones for everything and they might just create an app that replacing way finding systems so that people will have everything in the palm of their hands.

In class we also covered information graphics, which helps show a lot of information in a more interesting way. Here is an example of a very creative graphic that shows who the main investors were in the Obama/McCain presidential campaign.

Another part of information graphics are annual reports. Annual reports tell companies and their shareholders how the company did that year. People get bored looking at a bunch of numbers so now companies hire graphic designers to make their annual reports look visually appealing so that it will hold the attention of their shareholders.

Here is an example of the Abercrombie Annual Report. Their store has a very outdoors-y aesthetic to it but at the same time is very polished and conservative. Their annual report shows just that, they kept it very simple while sticking to their style. They took things that show their aesthetic and applied them to a business type setting.

In class we also briefly discussed business cabinets, which are a group of work that a designer creates for a business including business cards, logos, and so on. We then discussed typography and what looks good and what looks bad, that part of the point of typography is to slow people down, in a good way. Toy design, museum display and package design were also brought up. Vintage package design was also brought up because recently businesses have been going back to their original logos, probably to bring back older customers. I was in the grocery store and I saw an example of this.

The two biggest companies that are known for their vintage labels are Mountain Dew and Pepsi, even stating on label that they are doing a throwback to their original designs.


Raster- A rectangular pattern of parallel scanning lines followed by the electron beam on a television screen or computer monitor.

Vector- A quantity having direction as well as magnitude, esp. as determining the position of one point in space relative to another.

Typeface- he visual representation or interpretation of a set of characters.  is the design of glyphs which is the looks of characters. The same glyph may be used for characters from different scripts, e.g. Roman uppercase A looks the same as Cyrillic uppercase А and Greek uppercase alpha, and there are typefaces tailored for special applications, such as map-making or astrology and mathematics.

Font- A set of type of one particular face and size.

Serif- A slight projection finishing off a stroke of a letter

Sans serif- A style of type without serifs.

Em space- In linear measure, a distance equal to the type size, and in square measure, the square of the type size. Thus an em is 12 pt (or a 12 pt square) in 12 pt type. Also called mutton.

Ascender- A part of a letter that extends above the main part (as in b an h)

Descender- A part of a letter that extends below the level of its base of a letter (as in g and p).

Kerning- Adjust the spacing between (letters or characters) in a piece of text to be printed.

Leading- The amount of blank space between lines of print.

Bezier- A form of mathematical curve used in drawing programs, adjustable by moving points and handles. Devised by the mathematician Pierre Bezier, who worked for Renault, and therefore used them to create cars.

At the end of the lecture Tony said something that I think everyone should hear, he said, “Think of design as more than type and logos, think of design in the bigger picture.”


One thought on “Week 1: Applied Design

  1. Nicole, I would refer to this as pretty solid. It seems you are missing some of the summations of the reading but the blog is quite good. I’ll give it an a- for mid. this includes your branding piece. Thanks for all the work. t

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