The MA Communication Design course at Kingston is fundamentally concerned with the development of individual methods of working. The underlying principle at work is a focus on the iterative process of design – the testing of ideas and approaches to the effective visual communication of messages and the creation of understanding.
The widest possible range of factors and influences leads this commitment to the process of inquiry: from materials, tools and affordances to modes of reception and the creation of meaningful dialogues with the user and reader. The intention here is to encourage the notion of design as a problem finding activity. The designer and writer Michael Bierut has said the ‘problem contains the solution’ and the course provides the space and time to pursue the question not the answer – for us the purpose of the MA research question is to get a better research question: to achieve a better understanding of what is possible, effective and appropriate.
This does not mean the academic environment is a rejection of the industry that has a strong influence on the discipline in general. Moreover the programme of study is an opportunity to explore and develop an idiosyncratic ‘field of operation’ – based upon sustainable and enduring ways of working and a personal positioning of practice and its context.
The course asks each participant to undertake a process of de-thinking and re-thinking and deskilling and reskilling: (re)visiting and exploring the fundamental processes of visual design: the visual grammar and literacy that underpin visual thinking and intelligence.
The role of the visual communicator continues to adapt and develop to accommodate new approaches to the subject and the mediation of information and messages. The debate about the notion of authorship or auteurship within the practice of communication design has grown to include new modes of activity concerned with the origination of content as well as form. The technological foundations of the subject also continue to grow and the general practice has also altered significantly as a result.
The understanding of content has never been more important to the role of the contemporary designer/image maker and to what and how we communicate. The course builds on this knowledge and aims to provide a deeper understanding of how designers can utilise both old and new methods and technologies to build challenging forms of communication.
The notion of visual storytelling is central to the many forms of communication design that now exist whether they are fixed in traditional linear and sequential ways or are based in dynamic and interactive screen-based environments that are non-linear or non-sequential. This background presents new opportunities for designers, in particular to develop ways of thinking and working that transcend the media and technology of the day – to think beyond. This important aspect of study informs the visual tools and visual research methods that each individual will explore and develop and that support the work they produce. These tools and methods allow them to build a major project that is both critically informed in its foundation, tested in its creation and development and is purposeful in its outcome.
This publication demonstrates the activities of those who have taken part in the course this year and is intended to celebrate the time spent together and their achievements whilst studying at Kingston.