#ADesignLibrary: A New Program for Graphic Design

Graphic design has traditionally been dismissed as “surface”, a subject more concerned with aesthetics more than anything else. Thus, a part of contemporary design education is often devoted to studying the profession’s history and theories to prove its deep connections with the world we live in. “A *New* Program for Graphic Design” by designer David Reinfurt (2019) is a “textbook” that sets out to do just that. Based on a series of three courses originally developed to teach graphic design to liberal arts students at Princeton University, Reinfurt takes us on an alternative path from graphic design as a commercial art to view it as an “interface” where various disciplines meet. He holds up the likes of printer-publisher Benjamin Franklin and designers Bruno Munari, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Muriel Cooper, to show how graphic design has also historically been produced at where it meets with printing, photography, art, mathematics, computing and engineering. Abandoning the authoritative air of traditional texts for education, Reinfurt invites students to explore the network of rabbit holes he has personally dug— and to arrive at their own conclusions on what graphic design has become.

#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome enquiries and physical loans.

#ADesignLibrary: Space Settlements (2019)

Masked up, isolated and confined in cramped spaces all day — life under lockdown feels very much like living in outer space. A deep dive into (or out towards?) Space Settlements (2019) by Fred Scharmen reveals the many parallels between constructing space habitats and on Earth. Examining a 1975 NASA study led by physicist Gerard O’Neil to design a space settlement, Scharmen reveals how the seemingly fantastical sci-fi endeavour was shaped by similar methods, concerns and solutions of 1970s modern architecture on planet earth. What is the spaceship but ”just an elevator with a higher top floor”? And the idea of “megastrucutres” advocated by Metabolists as flexible frames to construct cities were useful for space which had no ground. In fact, the empty slate of space only made apparent how much we take for granted when designing environments on Earth. Only by stepping out of home, can we see it that much clearer.

#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome enquiries and physical loans.

#ADesignLibrary: Graphic Design: History and Practice (2016)

What is graphic design history for? It is a perennial question I encounter with my students—typically written on their bored faces (Or maybe it’s me?). I’ve never heard a leading design practice discuss history except for theirs, nor one that has clinched a client because of it. This existential question was one of many that led to the 2014 conference: “Graphic Design: History and Practice” in the Free University of Bozen-Bolano in Italy. The 6 presentations and 2 post-discussions, as well as 3 additional reflections, compiled in this book offers a small but valuable inquiry into the role of graphic design history in contemporary times. Whether it is uncovering the role of women, harnessing the digital wave or rethinking its place in design education, there is much to look forward to for those interested in its past.

#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome enquiries and physical loans.