Graphic Materiality: Teaching Graphic Design as Building Element

Presented by: Susie Tibbitts, Roberto Ventura

motivation Graphic materiality describes the hybrid design work that fuses graphic design with building elements. Like traditional building materials, graphic materiality embraces module, honesty and metaphysical connection. Rather than applying a graphic simply for the visual benefit, graphic materiality informs and communicates, therefore enlightening the viewer by providing a connection between the graphic and the space. The practitioners exploring it, such as Eva Maddox, Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, develop spaces where the graphic quality of the environment is inseparable from the experience of place. Incorporating this distinction into interior design curriculum allows students to explore ways to integrate graphic materiality in projects, strengthening their design outcomes. problem Students typically introduce the application of a graphic as an aesthetic solution near the end of the design process. This type of application is often an afterthought which causes disjointed outcomes, but more than a physical material, graphic materiality should be integrated into the built environment to provide a gestalt-like connection. Teaching students to utilize graphics as an integrated material rather than a surface application in the built environment provides them with essential skills influential in today's practice. While both forms of graphic application have a place in interior design education and the profession, distinguishing between an aesthetic application and graphic materiality provides different outcomes. method Educators at two schools sought to address the distinction between the aesthetic, surface oriented graphic application and an integrated, materiality application within design curricula. The potential application for graphic materiality is present in most studio design projects and was therefore easy to integrate. Students were given projects that explored the connection between graphic design and interior design. Educators provided a broad spectrum of two and three-dimensional work to allow students to become well-versed in the design process. Beginning design students are excellent at grasping the concepts of graphic materiality because they have yet to form habits as a designer. Introductory projects that are well-structured allow students to make necessary connections between the process and the outcome. For example, a second-year studio project introduced students to graphic materiality through a series of incremental steps. The students began abstracting objects or concepts resulting in a variety of sketches. The abstractions, once developed, translated into axonometric drawings with numerous volumetric variations. The final outcome resulted in presentation drawings, construction drawings, an architectural model, and poster. The best projects presented an integrated whole, where the two-dimensional graphic informed the design throughout the process. As students progress in a design program, the complexities of the process increase, yielding more integrated and sophisticated design communication. results/conclusion Teaching students to utilize graphics as an integrated material rather than a surface application in the built environment provides them with essential skills influential in today's practice. Learning to distinguish between the basic application of a graphic versus the integration of graphic allows them to see the benefits of bringing graphic design into interior design education. Providing students with opportunities to practice this integrated process prepares them for the multidisciplinary nature of the profession. The introduction of this concept into studio courses resulted in sophisticated student work, and the significance of graphics in the space increased when using an integrated system. Evidence of understanding this distinction manifested in verbal presentations of student work and the presence of the graphic concepts throughout the design process.

References:

  • Lupton, E. & J. C. Phillips (2008). Graphic Design: The New Basics. Princeton Architectural Press.
  • Pallasmaa, J. “The Geometry of Feeling: The Phenomenology of Architecture.” The Architectural Reader: Essential Writings from Vitruvius to the Present. Ed. A. Krista Sykes. New York: George Braziller Publishers, 2007. 245.
  • Postell, J., & Gesimondo, N. (2011). Materiality and Interior Construction. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • What is Graphic Design? (1993). Retrieved on 14 June, 2013 from http://www.aiga.org/guide-whatisgraphicdesign/
  • Wheeler, A. (2009). Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.