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Designing the Future

(This unit was created by Ben Cooperman for a Grade 7 MYP Technology class (MYP Year 2) at the Canadian International School, Singapore.)

Global Context:


 Key Concept:

Related Concepts:

    Form, Markets and Trends

Statement of Inquiry: 

    Understanding the science behind graphic design (form) and its impact on markets and trends empowers us     to communicate identity more effectively.

 Getting Started: Introduction to 2D Design

To begin, it is important that we familiarise ourselves with the vocabulary used in art and design. We want to have a common language to explain our ideas and share our thinking. Below is a list of words to get you started. If you are unsure what any of them mean, you can find their descriptions here:

  • Alignment
  • Balance
  • Contrast
  • Emphasis
  • Gestalt
  • Harmony
  • Movement
  • Proportion
  • Proximity
  • Repetition
  • Rhythm
  • Unity
  • White Space
We will go over each of these in more detail in class. In particular, we will take a look into the principles of Gestalt psychology. The Gestalt psychologists were interested in how our minds make sense of the world around us by conceptually grouping things together as discreet objects. The five basic principles of Gestalt psychology that we will cover are the following:

  • Similarity/Dissimilarity
  • Continuation
  • Closure
  • Proximity
  • Figure and Ground
Visit this website site for a detailed explanation for each.

Which of the Gestalt laws of perception can you use to explain what is going on here?

The Project


We make meaning not only from the content of visual media, but also from the various design elements and how they work together. Colour, shape and space carry meaning and together they influence how we interpret the information we see. Through the process of designing and creating visual media for different purposes, we increase our awareness of this process and gain insight into how we are influenced by design. We can learn to use structural design elements to add additional layers of meaning. 

Situation Specific:

The year is 2030. Your 10-year high school reunion is coming up. Who is this person that you see in the mirror? What does s/he do for a living? What sort of company does s/he work for? 

For this unit, we will deepen our understanding of branding. What design elements contribute to brand identity? Your job is to develop a brand identity for future you and the company that you work for. You will consider things like, colour palettes, fonts, logos and other graphic design elements. For your final project for this unit, you will design and create a business card for this 'future you'.

You have access to a wide variety of tools to complete this task and it is likely that you will need to work with more than one. You have each been given a copy of the Adobe Creative Suite to get you started and we will spend some time familiarising ourselves with its use. You are, however, welcome to use whatever tools you find helpful to complete the job.  Just be sure to explain and justify your choices in your process journal.

 Inquiring and Analysing

  1. explain and justify the need for a solution to a problem for a specified client/target audience 
  2. identify and prioritize the primary and secondary research needed to develop a solution to the problem 
  3. analyse a range of existing products that inspire a solution to the problem 
  4. develop a detailed design brief which summarizes the analysis of relevant research

1. Explain and justify the need for a solution to a problem

Write a paragraph that details what this project is all about. What is the problem/situation that contextualises this project? What do you know about the client? How will a logo and branding help the company?

You will develop your own ideas about what sort of design language would be appropriate for the client. Come up with 3 adjectives that you feel best describe the image that this company should be trying to get across. These adjectives will drive the rest of your work. The choices that you make should all flow from this image and these words that you have selected. provide an explanation for your choices.

2. Primary and secondary research

2. Primary and secondary research

The concepts:
In your own words, summarise what you have learned so far about the principles of design (ie Gestalt principles, ARMM). Provide concrete examples to illustrate. What do you still want to know? Where will you look to find answers?

Gestalt Theory for Graphic Designers

History of Typography

Logos and Branding

ARMM Model

The tools:
Write a short paragraph outlining some of the things that you will need to learn about using digital design tools so that you can do the job. What else do you think you will need to learn? How do you plan to go about learning these things? Be specific and give links to sources.

3. Analyse a range of existing products

In this unit, will have a look at the work of other designers to develop a deeper understanding of the different design elements and how they work together. We will try to see how they use shape, space and colour (etc.) in different ways to get a desired effect. 

Find 2 or 3 similar products (in this case, company logos) and provide an analysis of the use of different design elements in each. You should explain what you believe the designer was trying to communicate and whether or not you feel that they were successful. Justify your point of view with evidence and specific reference to the logos themselves. You should make specific reference to the principles of design and Gestalt laws of perception that we have covered. The logos that you choose should reflect the brand image that imagine for the client. Use the adjectives that you selected (above) to guide your choices of logos to analyse. You will likely be borrowing ideas from them for your own work. Steve Jobs famously quoted Pablo Picasso when he stated, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." Have a look at this website to see examples of how web designers can borrow ideas.

The next step is to look at typefaces. (To learn the difference between a typeface and a font, click here.) Choose 3 typefaces that you feel encapsulate those adjectives that you selected earlier. Give an explanation for each. Why does one particular typeface express one feeling or another?

Finally, present 3 business cards from your field or a similar one. Choose cards that express the feelings in those adjectives. Write a brief analysis of each explaining how it expresses those feelings.

4. Develop a detailed design brief

Write a short, concise Design Brief that explains the following:

What sort of branding do you plan for your client?
Who is the client and why do you feel that this is a good match?
How has your research led you to these choices? (This section should summarise what you learned in the previous section.)

Assessment Rubric

Below is the rubric that will be used to assess the quality of your work. The words in bold should guide you as you consider your work against the assessment levels.

Criterion A Rubric