Design Thinking, Design Theory
The Space between Look and Read
Designing Complementary Meaning
242 pp., 6 x 9 in, 44 b&w illus.
- Published: April 18, 2023
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Unleashing the potential that can be found in the space between words and images.
Designers have long understood that image, text, and typeface can work together to produce new meanings, creating semiotic registers impossible to achieve with image or text alone. In The Space Between Look and Read, a study of complementary meaning in design, Susan Hagan presents a framework, called Inter-play, which explains how these new meanings emerge. Inter-play is not simply an analytical tool; it is also a method for using complementary meaning to encourage critical thinking in design audiences.
Drawing from cognitive psychology, art theory, discourse analysis, design, and rhetoric, Hagan breaks down the synthesis of looking and reading into a complex series of registers, which are revealed through examples of excellent design. Thus, the book is both a theoretical exploration of how designers communicate and a casebook in communication well achieved.
From the physiology of vision to the limits of language, from Allan Paivio to Uwe Loesch, The Space Between Look and Read expands our understanding of complementary design and argues that by engaging audiences through multiple cognitive registers, complementary design serves as a cognitive tool, helping audiences reach new conclusions about complex problems.
“Offering exquisite analysis, The Space between Look and Read is a significant contribution to design theory. By characterizing the ways type and image combine on page and screen, Susan Hagan takes us from humming a melody to understanding a symphonic score.”
Steven Skaggs, Professor Design, University of Louisville; author of Firesigns: A Semiotic Theory for Graphic Design
“Hagan offers a valuable framework for revealing recurrent relationships in how we construct meaning that makes important pattern-finding explicit, avoiding the hit-or-miss interpretive results of first-learned visual principles.”
Meredith Davis, Professor Emerita in the College of Design at North Carolina State University; author of Teaching Design: A Guide to Curriculum and Pedagogy for College Design Faculty and Teachers Who Use Design in Their Classrooms