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the importance of design and its circumspect practice… | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

the importance of design and its circumspect practice…

After many, many years, Jorge Frascara is retiring from the University of Alberta. Tonight there is a special farewell for him. Below are some of his words on design.

“Good graphic design solutions to communication problems can improve the flow of information in society and, therefore, substantially and positively affect education, social well-being and the daily enjoyment of life. In addition, good graphic design solutions can also have a positive economic impact.”

“One of the responsibilities of a designer is to note that the thousands of times designs are repeated through various modern technologies significantly contribute to structuring the ways that institutions communicate to individuals and the ways that individuals develop their perceptions of society. Stereotypes of sex, profession and class are coined in everyday visual communications. Headlines of newspapers and magazines, pictures in advertisements, signs in buildings, typography in letterheads, cigarette packaging, cars, watches, bank-notes, consumer products packaging, university degrees, telegrams, wedding invitations, book covers, pharmaceutical products and a host of other items contribute to the construction and reinforcement of cultural stereotypes.”

“Poor visual presentation of information, or the lack of any visual presentation at all, is possibly one of the worst enemies of productive social integration. It is time for designers to move massively beyond the promotion of cultural and consumer products and to take a close look at the role that they can play as experts in human communication in the satisfaction of the daily needs of society.”

“We have, no doubt, a role to play in shaping the beauty of the environment, but if we pursue graphic design only as an artistic activity, whose products can be evaluated by their appearances, shown as pictures in exhibitions or reproduced in textless books to be looked at only, then our profession will be seen more and more as a luxury, dismissed as a frill and regarded as part of consumerism and the arts. In the meantime… the shaping of daily communications will be in the hands of electronic engineers, public servants, technicians and other non-visually oriented people. It is time for us to prepare ourselves and to become central in this shaping of daily visual communications.”

– Jorge Frascara, FGDC
(Graphic Design – World Views, 1990)

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