Design History

For my Media Perspectives theory unit I am currently studying Media and History, it is important that I relate my theory to practice to enable me to see how theory could link to my own work. In order to understand digital media design, it is important to have a realisation of it and how it has evolved over time. Looking into the history of design has helped me to understand it more in terms of its background and also how it still influences contemporary design. I researched some of the main design movements: Arts and Craft, Bauhaus, Modernism and Postmodernism. The Design In a Nutshell youtube videos were a particular useful source for my research. Below are some points about some of the key design movements…

Arts and Craft (1880-1910) arts and craft

  • movement in response to the industrial revolution – wanted well made products rather than mass production
  • key contributors – William Morris
  • designs were of high quality, natural, bold, bright colours and fairly simple

Bauhaus (1919-1933)


  • most influential movement in design history
  • an art school in Germany that combined the different art and design disciplines that they taught and publicised – embraced new technologies
  • key contributors – Walter Groupius
  • design were minimalistic, simple and involved repitition

Modernism (1880-1940)

  • modernismwanted new ways to improve the human culture and environment
  • inspired impressionism, surrealism and many other ‘ism’ art styles
  • designs were structured, original, unusual and abstract

Postmodernism (1978-)postmodernism

  • most controversial movements in art and design history – departure from modernism
  • challenged audience receptions
  • designs were made up of a mix of different styles, playful and bright

By doing this, I have learnt a lot more about the different design styles and what movements they originate from. There are many more design movements to explore but these were the main ones that stood out to me. From this, I can apply this theory of history to my own work to see what design movement has had influence upon my designs. It was interesting to research the history of design and I think this can help me with my practice.

Lister et al (2003) believe that digital media design…

‘can be seen as a continuation and extension of a principle or technique that was already in place..’ (p.17)

As well as that….

‘new media are thought of as epochal; whether as cause or effect, they are part of larger, even global, historical change.’ (p.10)

I believe that this really highlights the importance of exploring design history and how it still has huge influences over contemporary designs. Looking at various design movements has allowed me to see the different design techniques and how they have evolved and continued over time. Exploring history is highly important as in this case, it has improved my understanding of design practices. However it can also further understanding of common media debates, for example the changes in audiences; passivity to activity, and consumers to prosumers etc.


Creative Blog, 2013. The Easy Guide To Design Movements. Creative Blog. 22 October 2013. Available from: [Accessed 7 October 2014].

Jeys, A, 2013. Say What You Mean: A Quick Guide To Graphic Design Styles. Visual Fusion. 6 March 2013. Available from: [Accessed 7 October 2014].

Lister, M, Dovey, J, Giddings, S, Grant, I, and Kelly, K, 2003. New Media: A Critical Introduction [online]. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge.

The Open University, 2013. Design In a Nutshell. Available from: [Accessed 7 October 2014].


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