Arizona State University, Tempe, USA
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Project. Timeline: Type in Information Design

Purpose. This project is designed for third-year graphic design students.
The objective is to learn research methodologies, collect data on the subject of choice, analyze, and represent. The representation process fosters discovery of relationships between form (representation: iconic [photographic], symbolic [typographic] or indexical [combination of type and image]), and meaning (idea: thought, impression, belief, objective, concept, etc.). The emphasis is on clarity, accessibility, legibility, interactivity, mobility, fun, and expandability.

1. Comparative Timeline
Working with a timeline as a central organizing principle, students research interesting information and communicate unusual relationships. (For example, the correlation of women's hemlines with the ups and downs of the New York Stock Exchange during past years.) Students investigate and collect data and relevant images. They analyze the smallest parts one by one, striving with each successive evaluation to choose the one design alternative that will equal or surpass in quality the choices made before. They assemble the best small parts, carefully unit by unit, until they arrive at a final product representing numerous static strategic communication decisions. This process frequently stuns students, as it becomes clear that the result is greater than the sum of the chosen parts.

2. Simple Timeline
Working with a timeline as a central organizing principle, students research interesting information that coveys unusual information. (For example, the life span of the Monarch butterfly.) Students follow a similar design process as identified in 1.

3. Family (or Organizational) Tree
This assignment investigates formal information design theory by examining way finding — an architectural methodology — applied in an information design process. The focus is on navigation through information environments. Richard Saul Wurman’s theory of information architecture and the concrete relationships of family or organizational structures helps students comprehend the basic principle of strategic dynamic communication vehicles (such as web sites) that they will be using in future class assignments.

Format. Appropriate to content and interaction.

Time. 8 weeks, 2 days a week, 3 hours a day. Totaling 48 hours class work.


Mookesh Patel is associate professor and coordinator of the Graphic Design Program at the School of Design, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Arizona State University. He is also Rhode Island School of Design (RISD / Summer Institute for Graphic Design Studies) Continuing Education Faculty. He is principal partner at InfoDesign Management Inc., Scottsdale, Arizona — design firm with expertise on strategic communication, information management consultancy, and information design. He is a graphic designer and exhibit designer with interests in the theoretical and pragmatic issues of information design. He is a Fulbright scholar (2003) and enjoys traveling and flying Indian Fighter Kites.

These projects are intricate and complex. It may require enlarged display to review actual content clearly.

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