Faculty name: Ariel Churi

Contact information: Email: churiaATnewschoolDOTedu Office hours or by appointment only

Course Description

This course is an introduction to Visual Organization and Information Design. Students will explore different types of information and the modes of visual organization and representation that are appropriate to them. The class involves a studio and will draw upon previous design and technology skills.

Prerequisite: Design 1 and 2

Learning Outcomes
The objectives of this course are for students to:

  • Develop a conceptual and practical understanding of visual organization.
  • Develop an ability to demonstrate this conceptual understanding through design practice.
  • Develop a repertoire of strategies for the visualization of a variety of kinds of information.
  • Understand the implications that visual organization skills hold for the practice of design management.
  • Understand and demonstrate a responsible, engaged and informed critique.
  • Develop formal, craft and presentation skills in a manner that appropriately and successfully reflects and communicates intent.
  • Understand the applicability of your knowledge of visual organization to your upper-level classes (Design Research Methods, Design Development, Senior Seminar and Thesis).

Course Outline

Refresher on Gestalt principles of visual organization
Lecture: Principles of perception of spatial organization.
Class Activity: Perform gestalt experiments.
Assignment: Complete two experiments for review in next class.
Journal: Find and document 6+ examples of gestalt principles at work; include written explanations of each entry.
Reading: Thinking with Type, Part 1.

Introduction to typography
Lecture: Typographic anatomy.
Class Activity: Typeface analysis and documentation.
Assignment: Letter-form explorations.
Journal: Dissect, study and document 5 different typefaces.
Reading: Thinking with Type, Part 2.

Typography, continued
Lecture: Typographic anatomy, part 2.
Class Activity: Refine letter form explorations.
Assignment: Explorations in letter-spacing, leading, weight and typographic texture for
review in next class.
Journal: Create a value scale using found paragraphs of type. Scale must have at
least 7 levels.

Typography, continued
Lecture: Principles of typography: names and logo-types.
Class Activity: Word exercises.
Assignment: Refine and complete word exercises for review in next class.
Journal: Find and document 5-8 examples of logos as unique letter-forms.
Reading: Thinking with Type, Part 3.

Typography, continued
Lecture: Principles of typography: typographic grids.
Class Activity: Type texture explorations.
Assignment: Refine and complete texture exercises for review in next class.
Journal: Find and document 5+ examples pages/compositions that user different typographic textures.
Reading: Grid Systems in Graphic Design - Josef Muller-Brockman (handout).

Information Hierarchies
Lecture: Using Grid systems and information hierarchies.
Class Activity: Explore information hierarchies within a grid structure.
Assignment: Refine information hierarchies for review in next class.
Journal: Find and document 5+ examples of graphic communication that use effective grid systems AND easy to identify information hierarchies.

Information Hierarchies, continued
Class Activity: Review and continue working on hierarchy experiments.
Assignment: Continue information hierarchy projects.
Journal: Find and document 5+ examples of graphic communication that lack a clear information hierarchy.

Information Hierarchies, continued
Class Activity: Review and refine hierarchy projects.
Assignment: Continue information hierarchy projects.

Information Hierarchies, continued
Class Activity: Review and refine hierarchy projects.
Assignment: Select final experiment to refine for review in next class.

WEEK 10:
Signs and Symbols: Abstraction, Reduction, and Simplification
Lecture: Introduction to semiotic forms (icons, symbols and indexes).
Class Activity: Critique of hierarchy assignment.
Assignment: Translate three designed objects into icons and/or symbols that share a common
design language and work as a series/system. Refine icons/symbols for review in next class.
Journal: Find and document 6+ examples of icons and symbols in graphic communication. Note location found and context of use (try to determine if audience is a factor in whether the form is iconic or symbolic.) At least two must be indexical signs.

WEEK 11:
Signs and Symbols: Abstraction, Reduction, and Simplification
Class Activity: Review and refine icons/symbols.
Assignment: Complete icons/symbols for review in next class.

WEEK 12:
Poster Design
Lecture: The poster as the quintessential communication tool.
Class Activity: Review final Icons and introduce final project.
Assignment: Thumbnail sketches of poster concepts.

WEEK 13:
Poster design, continued
Class Activity: Review of work in progress for final project.

WEEK 14:
Poster design, continued
Class Activity: Review of work in progress for final project.
Journal: Final journal due.

WEEK 15:
Poster design, continued
Class Activity: Class critique of final project
Faculty evaluations etc.

Required Text
Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.

Recommended Texts
Visual language and Graphic Design:
Alexander, Christopher. Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964.
Dondis, Donis A. A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1973.
Wong, Wucius. Principles of Two-Dimensional Form. New York: Van Nostrand, 1988.

Carter, Rob, Ben Day, and Philip Meggs. Typographic Design: Form and Communication. New York: Van Nostrand Rheinhold, 1993.
Heller, Stephen. Typology: Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age.
New York: Chronicle Books, 1999.
Spiekermann, Erik and E. M. Ginger. Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works, Second Edition. New York: Pearson Education, 2002.

Information Design
Mijksenaar, Paul. Visual Function: An Introduction to Information Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1997.
Wildbur, Peter. Information Graphics: A Survey of Typographic, Diagrammatic and Cartographic Communication. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989.
Wildbur, Peter and Michael Burke. Information Graphics: Innovative Solutions in
Contemporary Design. London: Thames & Hudson, 1998.
Tufte, Edward. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2nd Edition. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2001.
Tufte, Edward. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1990.
Tufte, Edward. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1997.

General Design Reference
Norman, Donald. The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 1988.

You are required to purchase all materials. Being unprepared for a project and without the necessary supplies will negatively impact your grade. Please also budget up to $50.00 for additional supplies as needed.

Digital Storage & Data Loss
All work should be saved and backed up. Digital information does not exist unless it is saved in at least two locations (ie: a hard drive and a USB drive). Data loss for any reason is not an excuse. You have been warned. Do not rely on the drives in the labs, the drop box is emptied every day at 11:50 and there is no guarantee that your work will be safe in the Work in Progress drives.

Department and Class Policies

Student Responsibilities

  1. Treat class time as an opportunity.
  2. Arrive to class on time, with all materials, ready to work steadily throughout the studio.
  3. Be prepared with all your required materials for every class.
  4. Complete assignments and readings on time.
  5. Participate in class discussions and critiques.
  6. Confront difficulties in your work in the spirit of learning, creative exploration and personal growth.
  7. Ask for help from your instructors when needed
  8. Respect your fellow students at all times.
  9. Disruptive behavior is not tolerated.
  10. You are responsible for cleaning up after yourself at the end of each class.
  11. No radios, players, ipods, beepers or cellular phones are allowed in class.

New School University Statement on Academic Integrity and Honesty

Academic honesty is the duty of every member of an academic community to claim authorship of his or her own work, and only for that work, and to recognize the contributions of others accurately and completely. Academic honesty is fundamental to the integrity of intellectual debate and creative and academic pursuits. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in accord with the standards of academic honesty. Students are responsible for knowing and making use of proper procedures for writing papers, presenting and performing their work, taking examinations, and doing research. Plagiarism and cheating of any kind in the course of academic work will not be tolerated. Academic honesty includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others (including that of instructors and other students). These standards of academic honesty and citation of sources apply to all forms of academic work (examinations, essays, theses, computer work, art and design work, oral presentations, and other projects).

It is the responsibility of students to learn the procedures specific to their discipline for correctly and appropriately differentiating their own work from that of others. Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including (but not limited to) one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course, academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the university.

Every student at Parsons signs an Academic Integrity Statement as a part of the registration process. Thus, you are held responsible for being familiar with, understanding, adhering to and upholding the spirit and standards of academic integrity as set forth by the Parsons School of Design Student Handbook.

Attendance Policy

Parsons’ attendance policy was developed to encourage students’ success in all aspects

of their academic programs.  Parsons promotes high levels of attendance because full participation is essential to the successful completion of course work, and enhances the quality of the educational experience for all, particularly in courses where group work is integral.  Students, therefore, are expected to attend classes regularly and promptly and in compliance with the standards stated in course syllabi. Faculty members may fail any student who is absent for a significant portion of class time.  A significant portion of class time is defined as three absences for classes that meet once per week and four absences for classes that meet two or more times per week.  During intensive summer sessions a significant portion of class time is defined as two absences.  Lateness or early departure from class may also translate into one full absence. Faculty will make attendance standards clear, in writing, at the beginning of the semester.  Students may be asked to withdraw from a course if their habitual absenteeism or tardiness has a negative impact on the class environment.

Students who must miss a class session should notify his or her instructor and arrange to make up any missed work as soon as possible.  Students who anticipate a potentially lengthy absence must immediately inform the program Chair or Director and must explain the extenuating circumstances in writing.  Students must receive advance approval for the absence in order to ensure successful completion of the course.  A Leave of Absence or Withdrawal from Program will be recommended if the absence would compromise the student’s ability to meet course requirements and standards.

Classes meeting 2 time per week: 4 absences are grounds for failure.

Two (2) tardies will be counted as one absence.

Class begins on the hour sharp. The door to the classroom will be closed at that time. Anyone walking in after the door has closed (class has started) will be marked late. 5 minutes is considered tardy.

The following may be counted as tardy:
· Coming to class without the required materials
· Sleeping in class
· Being asked to leave class because of disruptive behavior.
· Doing other course work in class.

Academic Warning
Students who do not complete and submit assignments on time and to a satisfactory standard will fail this class. It is a student’s responsibility to obtain missed assignment sheets from other classmates and make-up the work in time for the next class

Evaluation and grading

Your grade is determined by your performance in following areas:

25 % Participation (includes reading & discussion) & Attendance

25 % Journal (average of Mid and Final grades)

50 % Projects & Exercises (average of individual grades)

Course Expectations
In order to receive a grade for this course, students must actively participate in classroom discussions and critiques, and complete all the assigned projects, including mid-term & final projects. Expectations for each assignment will be clearly defined; they will be printed in handouts and discussed in each class.

Mid-semester Evaluations
Mid-semester evaluations are issued to help students improve performance and make progress. Although a grade may not be given, the comments will indicate your standing on

a below – average – above scale.


Your final grade is determined by:

  • Your understanding of the course material.
  • The quality of your work and the research that precedes it.
  • Your understanding of the project assignments and the correct use of materials and formats specified.
  • Your participation in class
  • Your participation online
  • Your improvement
  • Your attendance
  • Your projects being completed and handed in on time.

All projects are due at the beginning of class. Any project or assignment not turned in will

receive a grade of “F”.  Late work will be graded down one grade for every late class.  If you are absent and an assignment is due, it is your responsibility to get the assignment to me on time.

If that is not possible, you will need to e-mail me to make other arrangements.

Grade Descriptions (from SDS Guidelines):

A 4.0 Work of exceptional quality. 95-100%
These are projects that go above and beyond the expectations and requirements described in the assignment. They demonstrate substantial effort and achievement in the areas of critical thinking, technique and presentation.

A- 3.7 Work of very high quality.  90-94%

B+ 3.3 Work of high quality, higher than average abilities. 86-89%

B 3.0 Very good work that satisfies goals of course. 83-85%
The “B” student offers a clear and convincing structure to a visual endeavor that is more complex and unique than a project at the average level. The creator’s point of view and point of the project are merged successfully and organized fairly consistently throughout the project. Although minor structural problems may be present in the assignment, they do not hinder the overall outcome.

B-  2.7  Good work. 80-82%

C+ 2.3 Above Average work, Average understanding of course material. 76-79%

C 2.0 Average  work;  passable. 73 -75%
The student demonstrates an engagement with the assignment. The project will show that the creator can identify and work with key ideas and examples found in reference material. Typical of a “C” project is that the original problem or assignment once approached, does not develop further. Projects may also have organizational, technical weaknesses.

C- 1.7 Passing work but below good academic standing.  70-72%

D 1.0 Below average work; does not fully understand the concepts of the course.
60-70%Although this is passable work, the project only answers the minimum requirements of the assignment. The projects shows very little effort, is incomplete, late or incorrect in its approach. The outcome shows a lack of full understanding and commitment on the part of the creator.

F 0 Failure, no credit. 0-59%

WF Withdrawal Failing.

Instructors may assign this grade to indicate that a student has unofficially withdrawn or stopped attending classes. It may also be issued when a student fails to submit a final project or to take an examination without prior notification or approval from the instructor.  The WF grade is equivalent to an F in calculating the grade point average (zero grade points) and no credit is awarded.

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