The importance of understanding and sharing graphic design history is under-appreciated. A few observations were taken into consideration regarding the sharing of design history information. Formats include content that is often text-dense and overwhelming. While great design history resources do exist, there is opportunity to develop a method for sharing design history that addresses these observations.
The Design Genealogy thesis project provides opportunity for the discovery of connections among designers and their work through a memorable, fun, and engaging learning experience. Its flexible format attempts to provoke inspiration, foster investigation, strengthen the retention of information, and encourage an eagerness to learn, share, and create.
Research and surveys were conducted to understand existing resources as well as opinions regarding learning and sharing design history information. A strategy for new sharing formats was developed after understanding gaps among studied resources. Also, barriers regarding the sharing of design history were recognized that were addressed during the content development and design execution of the project.
Final applications include a printed set of portfolios, quote cards, and design work cards. Also included is the layout of a home and landing page for a website. Interaction is illustrated in a short movie clip. Twelve designers were strategically selected and researched for inclusion in the first "set" of design portfolios, entitled Design Leaders. This project is both flexible and scalable where additional sets and content can be created in the future.
The printed application doubles as a teaching, studying, and learning tool. The printed application also serves as inspirational artwork, where quote cards and design cards can be traded, collected, or displayed in a variety of spaces and formats including studios, home, classrooms, libraries, or offices. The digital application acts as an interactive supplement to the printed application. Consistent in look and feel with the printed solution, the digital application considers digital space and interaction by offering pop-up definitions, connections, and links to related content both on the website and externally.
Usability testing was conducted, which netted extremely positive results regarding the application and its objective to serve as a fun, memorable, inspirational, and engaging learning tool.
(Posts regarding Design Genealogy can be found September 2012 - May 2013)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Graphic arts--History--Pictorial works--Design; Graphic arts--History--Interactive multimedia--Design
Graphic Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CIAS)
Nancy A. Ciolek
Bruce Ian Meader
Kelly, Casey, "Design Genealogy" (2013). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus