Loughborough University
22687.pdf (733.55 kB)
Download file

Seeking to build graphic design theory from graphic design research

Download (733.55 kB)
posted on 2016-10-05, 15:25 authored by Robert G. HarlandRobert G. Harland
Graphic design is a popular subject in art and design higher education, yet it does not have a research culture of its own. Other disciplinary perspectives provide an extended context for graphic design to borrow from but these seldom acknowledge the investigational craft skills associated with conceiving, planning and making graphic objects. They often apply a distant different disciplinary perspective that adds complexity and confusion in language use. For example, semioticians use of the word “sign” and “image” in critical theory and cultural studies is similarly ambiguous. Where there might be close graphic synergies with geography, mathematics and engineering, these are overlooked. In this section, I explore some of the issues that may contribute to establishing a foundation for graphic design research. The aim is to differentiate between theory for graphic design and theory from graphic design by challenging assumptions that graphic design has no meaningful belief system. Two definitions of graphic design are exposed as offering not much more than a generic name for an integrative activity. These have insufficient depth and overlook the core of the subject.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • Arts

Published in

The Routledge Companion to Design Research


87 - 97 (10)


HARLAND, R., 2015. Seeking to build graphic design theory from graphic design research. IN: Rodgers, P. and Yee, J. (eds.). The Routledge companion to design research, Abingdon: Routledge, pp.87-97.


Routledge (© the author)


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge companion to design research on 28/10/2014, available online: http://www.routledge.com/9780415706070.




  • en