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William Paterson University Spring 2010

ARTH 256 History of Modern Design

Instructor: Barbara Friedman E-mail: friedmanb1@wpunj.edu

Website: http://sites.google.com/site/lookspot (select your class)

Required text: Pioneers of Modern Design, from Wm. Morris to Walter Gropius
Nikolaus Pevsner Isbn: 0-300-10571-1
Buy this book ‘used’ if possible

Additional reading will be given as .pdf (you will print) or you will be directed to the source; see
suggested readings and web sources listed at the end.

Course Description: (from the catalog) Traces the development of industrial, domestic,
andgraphic design from the nineteenth century to the present. Themes include the power of the
designed environmentto shape daily life and the rise of professional designers to celebrity status.
Prerequisite: One course in art history (ARTH101 or ARTH 399)

What ‘things,’ what ‘objects,’ are important in your life? Is it your I-Mac, your I-Pod, or that new
shiny I-Jeep? What couldn’t you live without? Things, objects, they are important to how we live
our lives, how we feel about our lives, how we define and communicate who we want to be seen
as. Some objects are handmade and individual, others are mass-produced; some objects have
value to the viewer because they are seen as aesthetically beautiful, and other objects are truly
useful transforming how we live. The drinking straw (LifeStraw) that filters and purifies water has
saved thousands in Africa; the snow shovel that has a wheel (Sno Wovel) and prevents
backaches has saved many a baby boomer; Dean Kamen’s (the IBOT) stair climbing wheelchair
has added independence transforming where someone in a wheelchair could go.
In this course we will survey the history of modern design from the mid 19th century to the
present. Readings, lectures, projects will encourage discussion to create an appreciation and
understanding of domestic goods, graphic design, and architecture as well as the trends of
industrialized mass production. You will be challenged to think in what Warren Berger the author
of Glimmer calls “thinking laterally,” tricking your brain to work in unexpected directions. By
questioning, thinking deeply, and trying to figure out what is missing in the world you will also be
challenged to be a ‘designer,’ that is someone who wants to improve how we live, think, and

Course Objectives: Art & design are not created in a vacuum; history, world events, political
perspectives, media all shape the world in which design is created often serving as to the why it is
created. Students will learn and be expected to understand what has informed the work being
presented and how these design objects are connected to the period, culture, and movements of
the day.
Specific objectives include:
• Understanding the designer’s role
• The ability to recognize characteristics of selected design from the mid 19th century
to the present
• Serve as a connection to understanding the commercial, political, & philosophical
messages that are the basis for design and its trends as well as its place in our culture
• Using ‘deep thinking’ to assess problems and come up with design solutions

Learning Outcomes:
By completing this course students should:
• Be able to identify selected examples of design such as graphic, product, & architectural
• Be able to discuss the time line of the history of modern design and the connections
between history, world events, political perspectives, & media
• Be able to think critically, developing responsible, engaged and informed dialogue
• Develop an enjoyment regarding designed objects that allows for independent
• Develop a new approach to thinking about problems and their potential solutions
Class Procedures/Expectations:
• Attendance: More than 3 absences may result in a failing grade. Two tardies of 20
minutes or more will equal one absence.
• Readings must be done prior to class so that you are ready for discussion unless
otherwise noted
• Participation in class discussions. This means you need to speak-up; I don’t like talking to
• Papers: will be handed in on time; any late paper will go down 1 letter grade. Work is not
accepted after 1 week past the original due date and will result in an F
• Cell phones: if you should receive an emergency call, please take it into the hallway.
• Texting, listening to a MP3 player are not acceptable in class
• Everyone will be respectful when someone is offering their opinion; we don’t have to
agree, we do have to be respectful. Please do not interrupt when someone is speaking.
Please do not have side discussions when someone is speaking.
• Instructional Methods: Lecture, readings, discussion, projects/assignments, papers,
quiz/test (2 quizzes, 1 test), independent directed field visits to support assignments.
Failure to complete any of the above mentioned will result in a lowering of your grade.
• Plagerism: never acceptable and will result in failure. You are however permitted to cite
work using the MLA style (see WPUNJ library website: http://ww3.wpunj.edu/library/
refpubsx.shtml#gen Bibliography, references to be included.

Grading Criteria
Class participation in discussions 20%
Assignments 20%
Quiz/test 20%
Research project & presentation 40%

Websites of interest:
www. dwellmagazine.com
www. ikeafans.com

Suggested Reading: (some of our readings will come from these books among other sources)
www.nyt.com (Thursday style, Sunday art)
Glimmer, by Warren Berger ISBN-13: 978-1594202339
A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink ISBN-13: 978-1594481710
Objects of Desire, by Adrian Forty ISBN-13: 978-0500274125
79 Short Essays on Design, Michael Beirut ISBN-13: 978-1568986999
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell ISBN-13: 978-0316346627

Soap, Sex, & Cigarettes, Julian Sivulka ISBN-13: 978-0534515935

History of Modern Design, David Raizman ISBN-13: 978-185669348