Teaching and Learning Graphic Design Basics through “Play Metaphor”

By Elena Caratti.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The thesis of this paper is focused on teaching graphic design basics and it aims to outline the importance of ‘play’, and its formats, as an interpretative metaphor and as a basis for problem solving, conceptualising, reflecting but also for self discovery, experimentation, interaction, and abstraction.
Through the description and comparison of different teaching experiences, the paper will show how ‘play’ principles respond well to the systemic nature of Communication Design, the complexity of teaching and learning “basics”, the need of didactics that facilitate multiple ways of thinking, reflection and the spirit of challenge.
Playing with shapes, pictograms, symbols, words and images within first year courses, means going beyond a “literal translation of a problem or of a meaningless abstract pattern or shape” [Paul Rand, 1965], towards a more conscious process of learning that arises from the principles of play. In particular the multifaceted feature of “playing” has in itself some interesting peculiarities:
_it improves the quality of the process of knowledge-building beyond technologies and in favour of subjectivity;
_it works through indirect associations (beyond induction or deduction) and through a process of abductive investigation;
_it involves students not only at a rational cognitive stage but also at a personal and emotional level;
_it makes analogies with complex structured systems with ordered rules.
The author will articulate these considerations, basing her research argument on the notion that this didactic approach facilitates the generation of a powerful knowledge integrating specific competencies with a wider spectrum of understanding, which transcends craft skills or vocational knowledge while promoting a deeper consciousness within the student of personal capabilities, imagination and creativity.

Keywords: Graphic Design Basics, Learning and Teaching Methodologies Metaphor, Play

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.581-590. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.489MB).

Dr. Elena Caratti

Researcher, Politecnico di Milano, Indaco Department, Design Faculty, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy

Elena Caratti has a degree in Architecture, Ma in E-Design, and a PhD in Industrial Design and Multimedia Communication. She is now researcher at Politecnico di Milano, Indaco Department and lecturer at the Degree Course in Communication Design and Product Design (first year courses) of the Design Faculty of Politecnico di Milano. Her interests are in the area of teaching and learning methodologies for Design and Communication Design.

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