This is a text about why design is taught, and how. The multiple enmeshments between the design profession and design pedagogy demand that we simultaneously ask why and how design is practiced. Many designers would argue that we design to solve problems, innovate, or even make the world a better place. The truth is, however, that mainstream design consistently serves no master but capitalism; and mainstream design education dutifully follows suit.
Capitalism depends upon and reproduces racism and other forms of oppression. Accordingly, design and its pedagogy cannot escape unblemished from their entanglements with capitalism: their complicity with capital, neoliberalism, and white supremacy calls for close examination. Our care for the practice and our students demands that we consider ways to repair the damage to which design disciplines contribute.
I am a designer who remains agnostic about media. Because I am committed to an overall practice that examines capitalist power relations and their attendant racist oppression, I care more about examining meaning than exclusively evaluating form. I privilege that perspective as I examine design education, pedagogy, and history here. In this text, I chart the ways that pedagogy itself is troubling in its capacity for encoding and reproducing oppression. At the same time, I hope to offer a way forward with a hefty dose of skepticism about who or what might follow: that we might begin by troubling the pedagogy we inherit with an eye toward maintaining, repairing, and caring for the subjects of design and its pedagogy most injured by its oppressive tendencies.
With contributions by more than forty of the most influential voices in art, architecture, and design, After the Bauhaus, Before the Internet traces a history of design teaching from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s through essays, interviews, and primary materials. Geoff Kaplan has gathered a multigenerational group of theorists and practitioners to explore how the evolution of graphic design pedagogy can be placed within a conceptual and historical context.
At a time when all choices and behaviors are putatively curated, and when “design thinking” is recruited to solve problems from climate change to social media optimization, the volume's contributors examine how design's self-understandings as a discipline have changed and how such changes affect the ways in which graphic design is being historicized and theorized today.