Skip navigation

Design and Design Theory

Design and Design Theory

  •  
  • Page 1 of 8

Muriel Cooper (1925–1994) was the pioneering designer who created the iconic MIT Press colophon (or logo)—seven bars that represent the lowercase letters “mitp” as abstracted books on a shelf. She designed a modernist monument, the encyclopedic volume The Bauhaus (1969), and the graphically dazzling and controversial first edition of Learning from Las Vegas (1972). She used an offset press as an artistic tool, worked with a large-format Polaroid camera, and had an early vision of e-books.

Infrastructure Legibility and Governance

Waste is material information. Landfills are detailed records of everyday consumption and behavior; much of what we know about the distant past we know from discarded objects unearthed by archaeologists and interpreted by historians. And yet the systems and infrastructures that process our waste often remain opaque. In this book, Dietmar Offenhuber examines waste from the perspective of information, considering emerging practices and technologies for making waste systems legible and how the resulting datasets and visualizations shape infrastructure governance.

Edited by Skylar Tibbits

The past few decades brought a revolution in computer software and hardware; today we are on the cusp of a materials revolution. If yesterday we programmed computers and other machines, today we program matter itself. This has created new capabilities in design, computing, and fabrication, which allow us to program proteins and bacteria, to generate self-transforming wood products and architectural details, and to create clothing from “intelligent textiles” that grow themselves. This book offers essays and sample projects from the front lines of the emerging field of active matter.

The Elements of Interaction

We are surrounded by interactive devices, artifacts, and systems. The general assumption is that interactivity is good—that it is a positive feature associated with being modern, efficient, fast, flexible, and in control. Yet there is no very precise idea of what interaction is and what interactivity means. In this book, Lars-Erik Janlert and Erik Stolterman investigate the elements of interaction and how they can be defined and measured. They focus on interaction with digital artifacts and systems but draw inspiration from the broader, everyday sense of the word.

Tendencies toward “academization” of traditionally practice-based fields have forced design to articulate itself as an academic discipline, in theoretical terms. In this book, Johan Redström offers a new approach to theory development in design research–one that is driven by practice, experimentation, and making. Redström does not theorize from the outside, but explores the idea that, just as design research engages in the making of many different kinds of things, theory might well be one of those things it is making.

The Vinyl LP in Midcentury America

The sleek hi-fi console in a well-appointed midcentury American living room might have had a stack of albums by musicians like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, or Patti Page. It was just as likely to have had a selection of LPs from slightly different genres, with such titles as Cocktail Time, Music for a Chinese Dinner at Home, The Perfect Background Music for Your Home Movies, Honeymoon in Hawaii, Strings for a Space Age, or Cairo! The Music of Modern Egypt.

A History of Design Criticism

Product design criticism operates at the very brink of the landfill site, salvaging some products with praise but consigning others to its depths through condemnation or indifference. When a designed product’s usefulness is past, the public happily discards it to make room for the next new thing. Criticism rarely deals with how a product might be used, or not used, over time; it is more likely to play the enabler, encouraging our addiction to consumption.

A History of Silicon Valley Design

California’s Silicon Valley is home to the greatest concentration of designers in the world: corporate design offices at flagship technology companies and volunteers at nonprofit NGOs; global design consultancies and boutique studios; research laboratories and academic design programs. Together they form the interconnected network that is Silicon Valley.

Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture

In 1960, the renowned architect Philip Johnson championed Frederick Kiesler, calling him “the greatest non-building architect of our time.” Kiesler’s ideas were difficult to construct, but as Johnson believed, “enormous” and “profound.” Kiesler (1890–1965) went against the grain of the accepted modern style, rejecting rectilinear glass and steel in favor of more organic forms and flexible structures that could respond to the ever-changing needs of the body in motion.

A Semiotic Theory for Graphic Design

Graphic design has been an academic discipline since the post-World War II era, but it has yet to develop a coherent theoretical foundation. Instead, it proceeds through styles, genres, and imitation, drawing on sources that range from the Bauhaus to deconstructionism. In FireSigns, Steven Skaggs offers the foundation for a semiotic theory of graphic design, exploring semiotic concepts from design and studio art perspectives and offering useful conceptual tools for practicing designers.

  •  
  • Page 1 of 8