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Translational Aspects of Basic Design Exercises

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author Klein Sarah, Renner Michael,
Project Swiss Graphic Design and Typography Revisited
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Title of proceedings Proceedings of the DRS LearnXDesign 2019 Conference – Insider Knowledge
Place Ankara

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Among other things, translation is defined as “carrying something across”. With this interpretation, derived from the etymological root of the term, translation is not exclusively bound to the linguistic context. Therefore, a comparison between aspects of translation theory and the transfer of meaning in basic design exercises can be justified. Understanding linguistic translation as an act of cultural negotiation, raises the question to what extent basic design exercises reach across cultural constraints in transferring experience between design teachers and students. With other words: are basic design exercises transferring universal design principles or are they culturally determined the way language is? With the close reading of three basic design exercises, we present their diverse goals and intended transfer from teacher to student. (1) Drawing a cube is declared as a schooling of observation and an exercise in representing three-dimensional space in a two-dimensional drawing. (2) The technical aspect of constructing abstract geometric compositions had the declared goal of teaching perfection and craftsmanship. (3) And the graphical exercises followed the declared goal to generate a field of visual variations inferred from a strict set of rules and to learn to navigate within the design process. Based on this archaeology of intended goals described in the course of the three exercises, the paper discusses the implicit cultural constraints of the three exercises.