Design Culture Now

Design Culture Now

Bodega Typeface created on an iPad using iFontMaker; exported as a True Type font format.

Hand drawn “DE•SIGN” and “Cooper – Hewitt…” hand-lettering was drawn and generated on an iPad using the Made With Paper — 53 iPad App.

A Critical Academic Response

Many design professors and faculty have begun implementing a version of Ellen Lupton’s Design Culture Now poster assignment into GD1, GD2, or Typography classes across the globe. This overwhelming acceptance of this project has created a small online community. Almost a right of passage, a Google search for Design Culture Now Poster recalls hundreds of student posters. The collection is a small snapshot into the current need for design curriculum to adapt, change, and address contemporary design issues and technical attributes.

As a former graduate student of Ellen’s, I readily accept this project and have added it to my GD1 courses for the past several semesters. I have seen an assorted grouping of student designs; some excellent, and others that miss the essential guidelines and typographic criteria for which the project was created.

The National Design Triennial exhibition and catalog of the same name was once a speculative collection of cross-disciplinary designers and their designs in both theory, practice, and application. As indirect result has formed a large micro community of poster designs. These designs can illuminate current design trends, design education, and current events circulating the international design community.

Student designs vary greatly, from well developed visual design concepts, to poorly reactive, non-observant non articulated misaligned solutions. Seeing the larger community of DCN poster design I see my teaching notes are not unlike others. The uniqueness of this poster community allows distant observation for both the students and faculty. The diversity allows students to witness other attempts, used in a larger discussion can help make their own posters more articulate and considered. The DCN poster project is an ever specific, minute micro study, into current events of design history. The larger collection is acting like a time capsule for contemporary design education practice.

Project: 5
Text, image, hierarchy, impact


Time to make a poster! Again, we turn to Ms. Lupton
(with some modifications):

Create a poster for a lecture series about contemporary design.

Carefully consider the typographic hierarchy of the information presented. A viewer should be able to easily understand the calendar of events and quickly learn who the main speakers are. The poster must also convey the excitement of contemporary design to an audience of designers and students. The information itself must constitute the “imagery” of the poster.

Your posters should show a significant rigorous study of potential typographic solutions. Think of the past projects leading up to this; how does hierarchy, type size and style, and the use of a grid organize information. What relationships can you create?


Size: 18” x 24”

  • Your poster must be type dominant. You may use colors, shapes, and lines as well as any supplemental text.
  • Any secondary imagery such as a collage, illustration or photograph must be created by you. No outside found/stolen/borrowed imagery may be used.
  • You must use a grid to organize your design. The grid is up to you. Consider how the number of columns and rows may organize and structure your content.

Ideation—first draft of designs. You must create three poster concepts. Present your three designs reduced to fit an 11” x 17” (including crop marks). Each of your three concepts must be printed, cut, and trimmed and prepared before class begins. Unfinished posters will not be accepted for critique.



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