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DESIGN 150 A: What is Design: Practices, Principles, and Perspectives

Meeting Time: 
to be arranged
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Axel Roesler
Axel Roesler

Syllabus Description:

Instructor: Prof. Axel Roesler


Course Description

DESIGN150: What is Design? explores design activities and perspectives that affect the relationship between people, technology, and the world. A survey of design practice, approaches, research, and principles provide an overview of the work and training of designers in various design fields including Industrial Design, Interaction Design, and Visual Communication Design.


Course Format

This course is offered in an asynchronous DL (Distance Learning) mode. All course content and materials are provided in the form of ten modules that students will complete remotely. Every week, a new course module is published and students work through the assignments, readings, demos, and lectures in each module at their own pace before the due dates for assignments in each module.


Course Goals and Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Understand the fundamentals of design and the differences between various design disciplines.
  2. Acquire a basic repertoire of design foundations, methods, and terminology to identify, describe, and present designed products, systems, and services.
  3. Apply knowledge of basic design techniques to analyze design examples and create compelling presentations.
  4. Present and reflect on individual design interests in the form of a design portfolio.


Required Course Materials

Access to a computer with online connection.

All readings will be distributed electronically.


Online Course Modules: Schedule of Lectures, Readings, and Class Activities

This asynchronous DL class is structured into ten modules. You can work through the modules in sequence (1-10) at your own pace. To complete each module, Watch pre-recorded lectures, design skills and software demos, and complete the readings that are provided with each module. While working through the ten modules, work on the design projects that correspond with the modules (assignments 1-3). Assignments typically span 2-3 modules. Each module concludes with a discussion board where you are asked to leave posts and comment on posts of your peers. Each completed assignment will be posted as an online showcase so that all students are able to view the work that is being produced in class.



10 Asynchronous Course Modules will be published here weekly starting 09-25-2024



Course Assignments and Evaluation

The final grade of this class is comprised of 90% assignments and 10% participation.

Assignment 1 (30%): Identify and analyze a well-designed product, interaction, or visual communication example in a set of hand sketches. Submit a 5-page PDF of hand sketches and schematics. Meets learning objectives 1+2

Assignment 2  (30%): Analyze a design of high aesthetic quality - Choose an example of an industrial design product, an interactive experience, or a visual communication design. Design a poster of your visual analysis using a vector graphics layout application. You poster design combines images (photographs, screen captures, or schematics (such a proportional analysis or planar/orthogonal projection drawings) with text elements. Submit a PDF file. Meets learning objectives 1-3

Assignment 3 (30%): Select five design examples that illustrate your interest in design. Analyze and describe the design examples on ten portfolio pages that combine images, illustration and text elements. Submit a PDF file. Final project, demonstrates student meets learning objectives 1-4

Participation grade (10%): Students are required to contribute a minimum of 8 substantial posts to the 10 discussion boards that are assigned across the ten DL course modules. Participation will be assessed based on the quality of the student’s class discussion contributions in the form of discussion board posts and comments.



The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at


Access and Accommodations:

Your experience in this class is important to me. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at


Religious Accommodation:

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


Safety and Mental Health:

College is a time to grow not just your intellectual capacity and resources but also your emotional resources and resilience. Cultivating relationships with your classmates, academic counselors, and instructors will help you feel anchored, seen, and heard. Additionally, take time to develop a practice that nurtures your mental wellbeing: it may be journaling, taking walks, downtime with friends and family, joining an RSO or a faith-based community. To support you, free of charge, UW has a centralized website ( which links to three different centers:

The Counseling Center offers a number of resources for students ranging from meditation classes, stress management workshops, individual and group counseling, and crisis services. See

LiveWell offers resources for student coaching, survivor support and advocacy, handling alcohol or drug issues, and suicide prevention.

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime – no matter where you work or study – to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested. We are available 24/7.


Course learning environment:

  • Learning in an environment of mutual respect in the classroom and giving behavioral examples of what that means. 
  • Establishing guidelines for discussion of sensitive topics or having difficult conversations. 
  • Promoting active listening and establishing the classroom (both in person and all virtual extensions) as a safe space for the sharing ideas and contrasting perspectives. 
  • Use vocabulary and language the signals awareness of ideas and concepts regarding equity, inclusion, and social justice. 
  • Identifying one’s own positionality as it may relate to the subject matter of the course. 

UW Libraries:

Schedule an online consultation with a librarian, or use chat for immediate help. Learn about No Contact Pick-Up Service and Book Returns. Access your library account to stay up-to-date. Visit

The Writing Center:

The Odegaard Writing & Research Center is open to all members of the University of Washington community and feature exceptional tutors and librarians, not to mention convenient hours. Schedule an appointment or drop-in. The Research Help staff provide guidance with all stages of the research process, including defining a research question, exploring background information, narrowing or broadening a topic, finding appropriate sources, and identifying useful and credible information.


Academic integrity:

The University takes academic integrity very seriously. Behaving with integrity is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community. If you’re uncertain about if something is academic misconduct, ask me. I am willing to discuss questions you might have.

All work submitted for this course must be your own. Any use of generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, when working on assignments is forbidden. Use of generative AI will be considered academic misconduct and subject to investigation

Acts of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to:

  • Cheating (working collaboratively on quizzes/exams and discussion submissions, sharing answers and previewing quizzes/exams)
  • Plagiarism (representing the work of others as your own without giving appropriate credit to the original author(s))
  • Unauthorized collaboration (working with each other on assignments)

Concerns about these or other behaviors prohibited by the Student Conduct Code will be referred for investigation and adjudication by (include information for specific campus office).

Students found to have engaged in academic misconduct may receive a zero on the assignment (or other possible outcome).

Guidance to Students Taking Courses Outside the U.S.:

Faculty members at U.S. universities – including the University of Washington – have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events.

If, as a UW student, you are living outside of the United States while taking courses remotely, you are subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Local authorities may limit your access to course material and take punitive action towards you. Unfortunately, the University of Washington has no authority over the laws in your jurisdictions or how local authorities enforce those laws.

If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.

The UW Food Pantry:

A student should never have to make the choice between buying food or textbooks. The UW Food Pantry helps mitigate the social and academic effects of campus food insecurity. We aim to lessen the financial burden of purchasing food by providing students with access to food and hygiene products at no-cost. Students can expect to receive 4 to 5 days’ worth of supplemental food support when they visit the Pantry. For information including operating hours, location, and additional food support resources visit

Land Acknowledgement:

We acknowledge that the University of Washington exists on Coast Salish territory, the traditional homelands of the Duwamish, Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations, and other Natives peoples.



Catalog Description: 
Explores design activities and perspectives that affect the relationship between people, technology, and the world. Areas of research and practice, approaches, and principles provide an overview of how Design is represented in the field.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
May 22, 2024 - 4:54am