Reading graphic design in the expanded field: An introduction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In his essay ‘Soap Powders and Detergents’, published in French in Les Lettres Nouvelles in November 1954, post-structuralist French theorist Roland Barthes points out that advertisements for laundry products which promise to clean deep down are based on the notion that cloth is deep ‘which no-one had previously thought’ (Barthes (1957) 1972: 37). Barthes makes this point in order to draw attention to how and why advertisers and marketers had imagined this notion of depth. Conversely, Reading Graphic Design was prompted by a desire to probe misconceptions of superficiality in graphic design. Graphic designers are too often dismissed as mere messengers, concerned only with surface appearance, packaging, beautifying and delivering and content for others. This book shows that far from being superficial, graphic design is deep: it functions as a social lubricant, allowing designers and consumers to communicate with others and to express themselves. This introduction reflects on the development of a professional field of graphic design and two impetuses for the writing of this book, before briefly introducing the chapters within the context of the relationship of theory and practice in graphic design education. ...
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading Graphic Design in Cultural Context
EditorsGrace Lees-Maffei, Nicolas P. Maffei
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4742-9380-8, 978-0-8578-5802-3, 978-1-3500-1558-6
ISBN (Print)978-0-8578-5800-9, 978-0-8578-5801-6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2019


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