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Ed. note: This case study is a selection from the
competition, in which an esteemed jury
identified submissions that demonstrate the value of design in a clear,
compelling and accessible way. It serves as an example of how to explain design
thinking to clients, students, peers and the public in general, based on
The publication provides a detailed overview of the UCLA department of
Design Media Arts (DMA) and includes information about the MFA program, the
facilities, the senate faculty and the work of the most recently
graduated MFA class.
The aim is to inform prospective students about the department and the
MFA program in Media Arts. Additionally, the publication doubles as the
promotional poster for the department’s annual lecture series and
departmental events in the 2011–2012 school year.
This publication required extensive testing in the design phase. Several
dummies were made to come up with the “open” french fold solution;
several technical translations were tested on the screen grabs to turn
them into grayscale TIFFs to import into InDesign. On press, the density
of the silver ink layer over the black information from the
publication needed to be checked in order to achieve some level of
The University of California is confronting extraordinary financial
challenges during strained economic times. There was no budget for
this project and the department could not hire an alumni student to
assist with the project. As chair of the department, I decided to take
on this project myself, as a pro bono effort, and tried to cut the
production costs as much as possible.
The MFA program in Design Media Arts is very specific and it is hard
to define what media arts is—the best way to understand the program is
to look at the work of students and faculty online, and it is very important
that prospective students research the departments’ website.
That said, this publication needs to provide a dynamic, comprehensive
and clear introduction that is compelling and accessible to prospective
Normally, this publication exists in three discrete parts: as two
separate booklets for the entry guide and the graduate catalog, and a
separate large-scale poster for the annual lecture series. I designed one publication bound with a metal prong that, through a
simple folding system, can transform from one booklet into another
booklet. Basically, by printing one publication on one side of the paper
sheet and the other publication on the backside of the sheet, and using
an “open” french fold, the entry guide can turn into the graduate catalog.
The lecture series poster was printed on the same paper sheets that the
publication was printed on, throwing a silver color field with
knocked-out white text over all the text/typography of the two
publications. The posters doubled as the dust jacket of the entry guide/graduate catalog publication, when folded and placed around the
The publication was created using screen grabs of word files and
website screens for the purpose of not only emphasizing the merging of
media (so characteristic of the department’s mission) but also to
encourage readers to go online and do additional research about the
Economy: This project saved paper and press time, and yielded
significant financial savings to the department. In addition to lower
hard costs for production, because the project was completed on a pro
bono basis by the designer, there were no design services charged to the
department. The designer personally executed the binding and finishing
(adding metal prongs and folding posters into a dust jacket) in order to
limit usage of the print house to essential services: offset printing,
cutting, collating and drilling holes. Because the poster was printed
over the sheets of the publication, the printer could run double the
amount of sheets and did not have to change and clean the presses in
Environment: Per above, this project reduced paper consumption
significantly. Two publications and the poster were printed using half
the amount of paper from the previous year.
Culture: The aim of this publication, beyond fulfilling its basic
communication goals, was to make a statement by drawing attention to and
emphasizing the fiscal constraints facing the department and the entire
public educational system in California. The publication needed to look
“lowbrow”—almost not designed—using screen grabs and “not set”
typography. The silver layer that creates the poster created a chaotic
look and feel. Since there were several sheets needed for the
publication there are a variety of six different posters, where the
effect of the cutout letters are legible in some and less so in others.
The reader can transform the publication from “entry guide” to “graduate catalog” by simply folding over all the pages in the other direction—a 2-for-1 strategy that reflected the current climate in the
institution and posed a solution for how to do more with less resources.
Five hundred copies of the publication were printed using two paper sheets (25 x
38 inches) printed on both sides in black ink, fitting all 32 pages for the
entry guide and 32 pages for the graduate catalog.
For all four print runs in black, 125 copies were printed using only one
side of the paper for the posters.
Those were printed over with a dark silver ink field with white
knocked-out typography announcing the 2011–2012 lecture series and DMA
events. The 500 posters in four different variations (showing all of the pages of both
publications through the ink layer) were also folded as dust jackets
for the publication. The publication format: 6 x 8.5 inches, “open” french fold, 32 pages bound with a
metal prong. Dust jacket folded to a 6.5-x-9.5-inch
Learn more about the jury’s perspective on the competition and their
rationale behind the selections.
Section: Events and Competitions -
AIGA’s national design competitions celebrate exemplary design and
demonstrate the power of design.
Section: Events and Competitions -
In-house designers should not have to get out to do good. They have the
skills to make a difference right where they are.
Section: Inspiration -
in-house issues, Design for Good, INitiative, social responsibility, sustainability
In the information era, many factors have contributed to the overwhelming presence of chartjunks, but you don’t have to be one of those. Whether you choose a graph or a table, it doesn't matter—as long as you make clarity your goal.
Section: Tools and Resources
Working closely with the Middletown Youth Services Bureau, co:lab designed solutions to bring data about what kids needs to succeed into the community.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, social responsibility
In the wake of an unprecedented $1.7 billion in state funding cuts, California’s three segments of higher education turned to the communications team at UC for help.
Section: Why Design -
Design for Good, brochure, education, pro bono
External Resources (cont.)
Kru Khmer Bath Salt
The Silk Road
American Museum of Natural History