Visual Communication Design / Courses

Prospective majors should plan to take DES 166 in their freshmen year. During the sophomore year, all design majors (VCD, ID and IxD) enroll in a shared series of studio courses. Major selection occurs at the end of Sophomore Year, and is based upon performance in the Design Sophomore Studios.

Please note: With the exception of DES 166 and DES 208 all Design courses are reserved for majors only during the regular school year. Non-majors and non-matriculated students are welcome during the summer quarter.


DES 166 Design Foundations

The rudiments of visual structure and problem solving in two and three-dimensional design. The course emphasizes design methodology and design processes with emphasis on the formal principles of composition and organization. These subjects are the foundation for all subsequent studio courses in the Division of Design. Required for application to all design majors (Visual Communication Design, Industrial Design, and Interaction Design).


DES 207 Design Drawing

In this course students engage in rigorous drawing activities to gain an understanding of the power and importance of drawing as a creative and communicative tool. Clear structuring of space as well as formal compositional elements and their intrinsic relationship to representational drawing are explored. At the end of the quarter, students are challenged to communicate design ideas through sketches from the ideation phase through to a final solution that fully describes the aesthetic, 3D spatial relationships, materiality, and emotive intents.

DES 208 Design History

This course provides a comprehensive survey of the ideas, events, and individuals that determined the design of information, objects, culture, and commerce across societies. Students examine the social, political and cultural contexts that shape graphic design and the ideologies and relationships of similar movement in art and architecture.

DES 209 Typography

In this course students focus on type as image and the relationship between visual and verbal language. Type terminology, typographic history, technical issues related to typography will be examined. Type hierarchy and scale are also studied.

DES 210 Color + Composition

This course will explore the fundamentals of color, form-making and composition within the field of design. Through a series of exercises, lectures, readings and applied projects, students will develop an understanding of how to use color and form to visualize ideas in a unique and compelling way.

DES 211 3-D Foundations

An introduction to the aesthetic fundamentals of 3-dimensional form. Lectures and studio exercises allow students to explore the articulation of form and space in both abstract and applied scenarios. Prepares design students for subsequent work in all division majors (Industrial Design, Interaction Design, and Visual Communication Design).
—Prerequisite: DES 210
—Offered: Winter

DES 212 Introduction To Interaction Design

Introduction to Human-computer Interaction, interface design, and interactive and time-based media for designers. Overview of foundational interaction design concepts such as human factors, perception, cognition, research techniques, and design methods for the design of interactions.


DES 366 Visualizations

This course examines the visualization of ideas. Employing a variety of different image generating techniques, students produce visual representations based upon specific assigned subjects which independently communicate subject content. Imaging methods include electronic and conventional photography, video, illustration, type (as image) and collage.

DES 376 Advanced Typography

This course is an advanced study typography (continuing from DES 209). Students complete a series of projects that explore the nature of text typography. The goal is to transform text into legible and visually engaging communications that highlight and amplify ideas within written material.

DES 368 Communication Programs

The course involves the conceptual development and application of a related series of elements such as posters, brochures, stationery, identity and directional devices supporting a campaign, conference or event. Graphic, thematic and organizational strategies that educate and promote participation are often the objectives of this course.

DES 377 Symbol Design

The course begins with research of symbolic graphic images from an assigned culture. Students design a complete series of symbols, logotype and pictograms for usage in a specific situation and for a particular audience.

DES 367 Case Studies In Corporate Identity

This course covers the research and analysis of large and small-scale identity programs, for both corporate and cultural entities. Students are required to develop written case studies in collaborative teams. The course culminates in a team oral presentation of findings and conclusions.

DES 378 Information Architecture + Web Design

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of website design and planning. Content development, sequencing, interactivity and navigation are explored.


DES 466 Publication Design

This course stresses the research, development, organization, design and presentation of a complex communications document, such as a journal, annual report or a large publication. All aspects of design, content, image creation and production are addressed in a quarter long project. Digital publications are also explored.

DES 478 Information Design

This course explores the strategies for enhancing and visually presenting complex statistics and data. Various information subjects are selected and formed into charts, diagrams, graphs, tables, directories and maps. Through personal investigations, students learn to identify the principles which provide the most successful means for presentation of information.

DES 479 Interaction Design

This courses explores design issues unique to user-centered interaction in digital media. Students examine a range of formal and conceptual issues including user interface, organization, narrative, motion, time, and sound.

DES 467 Environmental Design

Students explore spatial information environments. Specific projects may stress issues of wayfinding, navigation, exhibition or signage.

DES 480 Senior Project + Portfolio Presentation

This course presents increased opportunity for self-directed design research and study in the context of an advanced studio seminar. Sustained investigation and integration of visual communication skills in a quarter long project. Public presentation of the outcome from this quarter is required in the BDes Graduation Exhibition.

Students who would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability should contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY).