Graphic Design: The New Basics, published by Princeton
Architectural Press and Maryland Institute College of Art
(MICA) in Spring 2008, is a guide to basic design principles.
We created this book because we didn’t see anything like
it available for today’s students and young designers: a
concise, visually inspiring guide to two-dimensional design
written for today’s world.
As educators with decades of combined experience
in graduate and undergraduate teaching, we have witnessed
the design scene change and change again in response to
new technologies. When we were students ourselves in the
1980s, classic books such as Armin Hofmann’s Graphic Design
Manual (published in 1965) had begun to lose their relevance
within the restless and shifting design world. Postmodernism
was on the rise, and abstract design exercises seemed out of
step with the current interest in appropriation and historicism.
During the 1990s, design educators became caught in
the pressure to teach (and learn) software, and many of us
struggled to balance the teaching of technical skills with
and critical thinking. Form sometimes got lost along the way,
as design methodologies moved away from universal visual
concepts toward a more anthropological understanding of de–
sign as a constantly changing flow of cultural sensibilities.
This book addresses the gap between software and vi–
sual thinking. By focusing on form, we have re-embraced the
Bauhaus tradition and the pioneering work of the great formal
design educators, from Armin Hofmann to some of our own
teachers, including Malcolm Grear.
The majority of student work featured here comes
from the course we teach together at MICA, the Graphic Design
MFA Studio. Also featured are excercises from a range of under–
graduate design courses. A sampling of those exercises are
assembled on this site. To complement the student work, the
book also presents key examples from contemporary profe–
ssional practice that demonstrate a variety of experimental,
visually richdesign approaches.
Graphic Design: The New Basics lays out the elements
of a visual language whose forms are employed by individuals,
institutions, and locales that are increasingly connected in
a global society. We hopethe book will inspire more thought
—Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips