In 2009, I edited and designed a book called Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field (Princeton Architectural Press, April 2009). This book presents primary texts from influential historical and contemporary design thinkers. I continue to build upon design history and theory as I work at Miami University to pragmatically equip my students for a rapidly changing, technologically-driven world. I see professional/cultural shifts all around and want my students to engage fully in the opportunities that emerge. Traditional top-down systems are transforming into distributed participatory tools of creation like Flickr, Threadless, Lulu, and Facebook. Much of my current research stems from my fascination with the designer’s place within this new paradigm.
As more and more citizens are propelled by technology into the production of content and form, the traditional professional practice of graphic design must expand to consider forms of co-creation. Over the last six years, I have used my classroom as a research lab for exploring new methods of collaborative making. I assigned collaborative student projects with other universities—The Maryland Institute College of Art, The University of Mississippi, The University of Georgia and Georgetown University. Such projects used technology to break down classroom walls. Multiple classrooms located in different institutions became one big classroom as students assembled in diverse teams to together take on design challenges. I also facilitated online critiques with practicing designers. Using platforms like Skype, Google Hangout and WebEx, students were able to discuss their work with professional designers around the country. Such technologically enhanced approaches resulted in original design research, as well as innovative teaching methods.
While encouraging collaborative projects in my classes, I co-authored and designed a book for Princeton Architectural Press called Participate: Designing with User-Generated Content (Helen Armstrong and Zvezdana Stojmirovic, 2011). This book explores current professional designs that harness user-generated content. Discussions with my students informed my research and vice versa. Participate highlights original research, including the collaborative cross-institutional student projects described above. This book led to a series of participatory design residencies and workshops in which I led students, educators and professional designers in co-creative projects. Locations for these included Parsons in New York City; the University of Tennessee; The University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic; American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) workshops in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.; The University of Applied Sciences, Mainz, Germany; and an upcoming residency at the University of Georgia.
In 2013, while an Assistant Professor at Miami University, I collaborated with Dr. Bo Brinkman, Associate Professor of Computer Science, to develop a Miami Augmented Reality Center. While at Miami, I also launched a new graduate program, an MFA in Experience Design. This program was a collaboration between Graphic Design and Interactive Media Studies.
In 2015, I accepted a position as Associate Professor of Graphic Design at North Carolina State University. While at NC State I finished a book project with Princeton Architectural Press entitled: Digital Design Theory: Essential Texts for the Graphic Designer (on shelves spring 2016). This book is a companion to my earlier book: Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field.
As a service to the larger profession of design education, I also co-chair the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Design Educators Community Steering Committee. This committee of twelve dedicated educators from diverse institutions across the country oversees larger issues of design education in the U.S. We are the representative body for American design education nationally and internationally. Membership of the AIGA, both practicing designers and educators, exceeds 25,000.