Graphic Design classes visit Special Collections

Last week was a busy week in Special Collections - two Graphic Design classes, GD 231 and GD 203 (taught by Russell Flinchum and Deb Littlejohn, respectively) reviewed a large selection of books with interesting design components.

GD 231, History of Design for Engineers and Scientists:

Russell Flinchum shared some background on this course:

During July 2015 I had a very special opportunity to spent a month at Drexel University in Philadelphia at a NEH Summer Institute on “The Canon and Beyond: Teaching the History of Modern Design.” With my 26 classmates, I had the chance to visit a number of special collections, including the Hagley Museum and Library, where Dr. Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society at the University of Leeds, took us on an impressive journey on the role of color in 19th century design (her 2012 book, The Color Revolution , is highly recommended). Reggie’s workshop had clued me in to the extensive network of publications focused on color research and standardization and I was able to show my students the Hoechst Company’s impressive volume on Cotton Dyeing as an example of the primary materials that Professor Blaszczyk had worked from.

For the GD 231 class, Special Collections selected volumes on the early applications of electricity, mechanical engineering, supply catalogs, and other books that showed Flinchum's students what “the state of the art” was over a century ago and how information-rich that environment was.

GD 203, History of Graphic Design:

The students in Littlejohn's class had a large list of books to select from, such as this perennial favorite by  E. A. Seguy. While studying their books, the students will consider some of these questions, all provided by Dr. Littlejohn:

In the first (subjective) part, think about and write about your experience with the book, such as:

What is my first visual impression of the book?
What is the physical nature of the book? Size, weight, binding, paper
How do I sense the book? Look, touch, smell, hear (don't taste!)
What about the physical nature of the book interests me?
What is interesting about the design? Typography? images? cover? layout? etc.

In the second (objective) part, research and answer some of these questions (all questions are unlikely to be pertinent to each book, choose wisely):

(everyone must answer this) Why is this book in the collection? Why is it important enough to collect?
What is this book valued for? (may be more than one thing) subject matter, author, design, age, writing, illustrations, printing, previous owners, where produced
Is this book mentioned in books about the history of books and printing? (Z 250 section of the library)
How does this book fit in with history? Printing history, art/design history, history of a discipline, etc.
Is this book an example of something special? a beginning, an end, a particular style, etc.
Is this book part of the development of something?
If there are important individuals involved in the book's making, who are they?
Is this book connected with any other books in the collection? In a series, by the same author, by the same designer, about the same subject, etc. Does this add to its importance?

We look forward to working with these classes again next year!