In summary

  • Associate Professor Daniel Huppatz's book provides framework for understanding design
  • Huppatz focuses on design concepts and practices
  • The book provides a framework to bridging evolving design disciplines

Swinburne Associate Professor Daniel Huppatz’s book, Design: The Key Concepts is a definitive design text for students. Published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts earlier this year, the book is an introduction to contemporary design.

The book provides a framework for understanding the fundamental issues that challenge and inform the work of designers today, including interaction, emotion, sustainability, accessibility and participation.

With a focus on the design concepts and design practices that have evolved over the last twenty years, Professor Huppatz includes case studies to show how design has influenced our everyday lives. Bridging evolving design disciplines in one publication, he references across graphic, industrial, interactive, interior, service and systems design.

Apple Store on Nanjing Rd, Shanghai, September 2018, image by Daniel Huppatz.

“Although design is everywhere, it’s often taken for granted. We might notice its final products, when, for example, we come across a website featuring the latest app or an innovative new desk lamp. We also notice design when an app glitches, when we cannot assemble our lamp or we miss the freeway exit ramp because the sign was unreadable. As typographer John D. Berry succinctly put it, ‘Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself; when it succeeds, it’s invisible.’ My aim in this book is to make design visible by mapping its many activities and dimensions in a concise and accessible way,” says Professor Huppatz.

Amazon Go store in Chicago, February 2020, image by Daniel Huppatz.

“Future designers and critics must engage with design’s ethical, cultural, economic, and political dimensions if they are to make a genuinely sustainable contribution. Design: The Key Concepts focuses not only on the outcomes of design and the skills or processes that produced them, but also on the planning, reflection and thinking that precedes that action. That is, design is understood as the imagination to envisage something better as well as the skills to implement it. This will require future designers to develop not only research skills alongside visualisation skills, but also skills in dialogue, negotiation, and collaboration to truly improve the state of our complex world,” he explains.

In his book Professor Huppatz notes that design is a fundamentally future-oriented discipline, and part of its role is projecting possibilities for action. He says changing the accelerating modernisation of the twentieth century requires an alternative narrative or vision, perhaps an entirely new way of conceiving design.

“The rise of higher research degrees in design, while relatively new, suggests that the next generation of designers may be highly educated professionals with expertise across various fields. This may signal a shift from Silicon Valley’s ‘move fast and break things’ mantra to a more considered ‘move slow and fix things’ approach,” Professor Huppatz says.

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