Communication Design Studio: Note and Reflection

MPS Fall 2017

8.29 Class overview and Project 1 Kickoff

It started with few clockwork toys. While Stacie walked us through the stories behind these toys, we tried to decode it from its appearance, structure and material.

What does the warm-up activity relate to communication design? Or communication? In fact, every part of this Polly pig tell you something about itself. It makes out of metal not plastic. It has a ribbon on its neck… Not only itself but also the context influences people’s opinion about it. As a result, I would say communication design is about manipulating how people perceive things.

Course overview

For this semester, there will three major topics

  • Navigating information
  • Abstract to concrete
  • Visualizing data

The project in first topic was also kicked off today. (link)


Before this class, we have read two articles: one is about about Trump’s phenomenon. One of his campaign slogan is “Make America Safe Again”. According to the statistic data, we could probably conclude that America is neither safer nor more dangerouse than several years ago. How come this slogan attract so many people’s attention? The author argued that now media prefers to show the worst part of the world since it attracts people’s attention most. We start to feel unsafe because we believe that the world is actually dangerouse. What could we do to change this situation.

The other reading is Davis Meredith’s Graphic Design Theory. It talks about design are both illustrative (reflect the culture and society in which it is produced)and formative (part oIf dynamic process through which culture is actually constructed). It also talks about schema theory which focuses on how we assign meaning to things or people through social experience.

During the class, we discussed what we found in the news source. While one shared his thoughts, other two needed to visualized them.

My first attemp to visualized ideas

We also talk about Napkin sketch today. In Molly’s seminar class, we are also required to do sketch note each week. I found it very difficult to express an idea in this rough but simple way. I can’t help but to write down words or try to look for icons on the internet. I am a note taker but just not a visual one. I took Mathew’s “Methodolgy of Visualization” last semester and realized that it was not all about the drawing techinque but communicate the things you want to deliver. Drawing a hand holding a cup is quite different than just a cup. Environment could also communicate the context. I did draw many wireframe and storyboard in MA yesr but I guess I still need to work harder to be a visual thinker.


In this week, first we read about typography. The decision of typography is not only about its connotation but also its context. To get the context, several questions should be answered:

1. Who initiates the work?
2. Who are the readers?
3. What is the artifact?
4. How is the artifact manifest?
5. Where does the delivery take place?
6. When doe the delivery take place?

The second reading is about sketch note. There are several guidlines could be followed to sketch your ideas.

Napkin Sketch Workbook by Don Moyer

In Class

At first, we had a small session about typography. When we see a typeface, there are several perspective we could leverage.

1. Connotation
2. Meaning + Form + Experience 
3. Nuanced understanding
4. Perception shift
5. Form oppose meaning

First of all, if you don’t know the meaning of word. Simply from the typeface, you could probably guess its meaning or application. That is what we call “connotation”. Secondly, if you could understand the meaning of world, the typeface will enforce the perception from the form and your experience. Graphic designer could go further deep into typeface choices in order to create more sophisticated meaning. If you have two exactly same words with different typeface, people will start to perceive differently. Last one is that if you use a typeface against the word (ex. Garage sales with decorative letters), people will get confused.

For the discusion first project, please check the other post. (link)