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.