Knowing Your Design History Presentations


Slide on Alphonse Mucha, “Gismonda”, 1899 dissecting the visual vernacular of the artifact

Slide on Alphonse Mucha, “Gismonda”, 1899 discussing the designer behind the artifact

Slide on Blue Note Album Cover, “A.T.’s Delight”, 1960 dissecting the visual vernacular of the artifact

Slide on Blue Note Album Cover, “A.T.’s Delight”, 1960 discussing the designer behind the artifact

Level: , ,
Duration: 1 week
Category: ,
Filed Under: , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

I asked students to identify a "typographic design artifact" for them to research and present. Each student present 1 artifact over the course of the term. Students had to address several points: talk briefly about the designer of the artifact; place the artifact into a "movement" (or if they could not identify an art movement, how it may have evolved from one or more art movement(s)); discuss why they selected the artifact.

In order for students to get a wider variety and the avoid looking at pieces that look the same, I did my own presentations once a week for the entire term.

Learning Objectives

The idea behind this was primarily inspired by the AIGA Eye on Design article "Knowing Your Design History is Crucial to Aesthetic Innovation" by Kristen Coogan. I've always been an advocate for teaching design history in design classes and figured that this would be a good way to ask students to dive a little deeper.

Learning Objectives:

  • Exercise research and presentation skills
  • Gain a literacy in the vernacular of historic art/design movements
  • Create a collective of various artifacts/creators so that students can look back


Students were asked to create their presentation (~5 slides) in a shared gSlides format so that everyone's items could be seen in one presentation (for easy download at end of term).


Looking forward, I would like for students to focus on a designer instead of an artifact. It seems easier for a student to talk about a body of work instead of one specific one. Also, due to how my institution works, my students are at various points in their Art History credits so some have a wider understanding of movements than others so I aim to provide a more specified list of resources. I think, additionally, I will have some more pointed questions as opposed to broad strokes of things to consider. I might also consider assigning designers or artifacts to students instead of leaving it open or providing a list of recommendations.

Related projects