Communication for Designers

"The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings. In the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem of what to say and how to say it."
—Edward R. Murrow

This course will survey and critically discuss precedents and techniques for clear and effective communication of design ideas. Throughout the semester, we will study the process of developing, distilling, and articulating a project from initial idea to final presentation.
We will look at examples from within the disciplines of landscape architecture, architecture, and urban design, but will also draw from the fields of graphic design, journalism, narrative nonfiction, advertising, exhibition design, politics, and public speaking.

We will explore the expanded potential of storytelling and how narrative techniques are employed by some of the masters of contemporary design and culture. We will discuss the importance of positioning a project with a particular argument and will develop techniques for effectively researching and communicating this position through written thesis statements, descriptive writing, and the combination of word and image. We will also discuss available media and its uses and limitations, editing and ordering visual material to tell a story, telegraphing a message quickly, public speaking techniques and styles, and constructing images for maximum communication impact. We will study this material with an ongoing critical discussion of several influences on communication including gender, culture, language, and power.

This course is specifically designed to address multiple disciplines, and enrollment is encouraged for students from the landscape architecture, architecture, and urban planning and design programs. Non-studio students are encouraged to join the course.

While the communication principles covered in the course are applicable to all communication platforms, the material we cover in the course focuses specifically on the communication of design ideas—generating clear ideas, describing projects, and making proposals and presentations for design work. The material in the course is delivered via lectures, class discussions, and a series of short, practical assignments and presentations. Assignments, presentations, and in-class discussion require excellent command of spoken and written English.