First, find a current (made between 2000 and the current year) designed environment (store? restaurant? mall? part of an airport?) or designed object. It must be an object or environment with which you have had direct and recent physical encounter, not something you’ve merely seen in a photograph or visited a long time ago.

Next, without doing any external research on your object or space, and relying only on what you have learned in the course so far along with your skills of visual observation, write an essay in which you make an argument that your object or environment embodies (or appears to be under the influence of) specific precedents in design. These can be design styles, design concepts, and philosophies of design. As you do so, show your understanding of the course material. (This is, after all, a test of how well you understand the course material—like a final exam. Plan accordingly.)

You can draw upon the lectures and readings from the entire run of the course. As you make reference to design styles, concepts, and philosophies, be sure to give them historical context: showing that you understand when the styles or concepts emerged and what aesthetic characteristics and principles of design they advanced.

If you select stylistic precedents that philosophically contradict each other or arose in response to circumstances that were very different from the object or environment you chose, you should acknowledge this and explain how they do, or you will not receive credit for both (only one).

A balance of quantity and quality is desirable. If you make fewer references to course material, your discussion of course content should be more in-depth than if you were to make a greater number of references. For the mid-term and the final essay, no one should discuss fewer than three. Doing so will not earn even a C-, the lowest passing grade for Art Department majors.

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