Visual design

University Master's course

Length of the course 15 months

Start October 2015

Academic training + internship

Graphic design has established itself as a vast professional field integrating different strands which are reflected in the variety of specialized career paths in the market.

Features

From identity to editorial design, from information graphics to digital communication: the designer is called on to take care of all the graphic and visual aspects in the communication process. The programme of the Master’s course caters for the complexity of this scenario and allows profound experiences in the various areas of graphic design. The programme develops in an ongoing relation among these disciplines in order to promote a higher level of professionalism and enhance the technical proficiency of the designers. The studio classes draw up the students’ design thinking and their graphic abilities by reproducing the challenging dynamics which are peculiar to the professional practice. Format, layout and composition, typography and visual elements are closely investigated as key elements of the language of the graphic representation. The plan of studies includes advanced training into all the professional tools and up-to-date technologies.

 

Admission

Upon selection the Master admits graduates in Visual Communication, Graphic Design, Advertising or their equivalents and students from Fine Arts Academies with graphic orientation; candidates who have gained significant professional experience in the field. The program has a limited number of places available. Applicants will be admitted upon selection based on the student’s CV, portfolio and on an interview. Applications must be sent to the SPD Academic Office. More information on the admission process here.

Duration

The Master lasts 15 months (from October to December of the following year, with a summer break in August). Attendance is compulsory and full time. The total workload of the course corresponds to 1500 hours/student encompassing lessons, class exercises, internship and individual study.

Internship

At the end of lessons, students start a three-month internship at companies or professional firms in the field.

Language

The Master’s course is held in English.

qualification

After passing the final exam, eligible students will obtain a Master’s Degree from IULM and SPD. The Master corresponds to 60 ECTS credits.

 

Programmes and teaching staff to be updated

 

 

Classes

  • Computer Design I, I I
    Erasmo Ciufo

    Technologies supporting graphic communication make tools available for experimenting creative solutions previously simply unthinkable. Softwares such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign have been a real turning point for the work of graphic designers revolutioning their work and allowing more flexibility, beyond the severe compositive schemes of the past. The advent of alternative or unconventional solutions in graphic design has cancelled as a consequence the predetermined association page=bidimensionality enabling the appearance of a different architecture generated by a system of relations between leading players (photo, illustrations, lettering, signs) and their followers. It is therefore necessary to recognize leaders and hierarchies in the relationship between full/empty, dimensions/colour but also value less usual attributes such as transparency and light.
    The teaching methodology combines technical, functional and creative with the development of increasingly complex tasks.

  • Visual Design: History And Critical Views
    Silvia Sfligiotti

    The aim of the course is to provide the students with an understanding of the discipline of Visual Design through its development over time and its different application fields. During the historical narration certain elements of design criticism and points for reflection will be put forward in order to encourage the students to reformulate for themselves the themes dealt with on the course. The subject is dealt with chronologically (pointing out the main movements in relation to their historical period) and thematically (putting forward certain specific aspects in a more in-depth way). An important key of interpretation is the development of media and production means in relation to the parallel evolution of Visual Design. Another subject handled is the evolution of the figure of the designer (artist, designer, art director) and their role in the communication process. Some of the topics on the historical path:
    –origins and evolution of writing
    –origins and evolution of the book
    –the 19th Century: lithography and photography revolutionize graphics
    –the 20th Century, the avant-garde and the birth of modern design
    –modernism in Europe and the United States
    –post-modernism and deconstruction
    –digital revolution
    –contemporary graphics trends
    Subjects of some of the academic lessons:
    –Otto Neurath, Harry Beck and Ladislav Sutnar: birth of information design
    –Graphics and music: from Blue Note Records to Stefan Sagmeister
    –Graphics criticism/active graphics: alternative movements and communications criticism from the 60s to the new century
    –Magazines and type design in the digital world: Emigre and Neville Brody

  • Identity Design Laboratory
    Cristiano Bottino

    The workshop is focused on the theme of Visual Identity. The course has a practical orientation and tackles the design of an identity system on a conceptual, creative and technical level. The work will be developed individually or in pairs and will require the design of a complete set of visual identity elements – symbol, logo and properties of the brand, related applications, colour and typography system. Two different tasks will be assigned over the semester. In both cases the final result will be an organized project for communicating businesses, institutions or events in a clear and distinctive way. Taking advantage of the tutors’ guidance and class critique activities, students will fully develop their own designs through a continuous process of assessment and advancement in order to come to innovative design solutions consistent with the guidelines in the brief.
    The brief may be assigned in collaborations with companies and will be announced by the tutors at the beginning of each course or after the preparatory classes.

  • Typography Laboratory
    Marta Bernstein

    This course conveys the basics for the correct use of typefaces in graphic design. A definition of typography, its purpose, the fields in which it is applied and all its different possible interpretations will be investigated. Specific attention will be devoted to the shape of the various gliphs and to the usage of typefaces by means of free hand sketches and drawings. Classes will be organized into a theoretical part (hystorical examples and and contemporary case-studies) and several practical exercises to be made individually after class.
    During the lectures, the five different levels of typography will be taken into account:
    – letters (form, function, typeface classification)
    – text (spacing, legibility, composition)
    – page layout (grids, text organisation with space consideration)
    – sequence (dynamic page flow)
    Every topic will be tackled both theoretically and practically; there will also be the chance to boost the information thus acquired through a relevant design practice. Attendance requires a significant amount of work extra classes for assignments and individual study.

  • Advertising Workshop
    Fabrizio Piccolini

    This course – made of experts’ lectures and themed workshop – takes a look into both theoretical and practical side of contemporary advertising culture. Nowadays, practices require a reduction in the boundaries between the traditional domains of advertising. Young creative directors need thus to respond with “medium–neutral” ideas. Once there was advertising and below-the-line. Now, the new scenes of advertising communication impose on techniques that have nothing in common with the traditional approach. Advertising is rapidly changing its methodology – from persuasion to penetration – infiltrating everywhere to find new territories and new audiences whereas individuals – notoriously, targets – have learned to criticise, boycott, choose, advise, behave an establish different mutual relations.
    It is actually with the relationship, the dialogue, the interchange between brands/products and individuals that the course will try to tune in and bring his own contribution to the debate. It is the young people or worse, the consumers who are less likely to be pouring over a screen but are more than likely to be found sitting in front of a monitor, using the net to connect and keep in contact exchanging ideas and stories. A blog or a group discussion can condition a prospect purchase much more than ads on TV or an a magazine. Advertisers, the ones who have stopped studying, are dangerously trying to intercept the phenomenon by creating a new vocabulary which talks about viral and guerrilla marketing but it is often only the workers’ resistant armoury obstructing the targets from looking in another direction.
    The course proposes to teach advertising to young students who could one day become creative directors, bearing in mind, that the fundamentals are always valid because the rules of design luckily never change. There is a new awareness that must be considered. This is an awareness that passes through the net, through consumer associations, through the phenomenon of boycotting, through the movements of no-pubs and towards the way of thinking which is becoming more popular leaving behind the traditional channels of advertising. Advertising today is made up of conversation and experiments. This is what is going on during the classes.

  • Web Design Tools I, I I
    Monica Mantegazza, Paola Muller

    The course will give a basic knowledge of XHTML language; afterwards the programme tackles the applications such as Dreamweaver and Fireworks in order to enable students to produce simple websites and multimedia with great communicative impact.
    – XHTML Language: browsers and main platforms; structure, plan and usability of web applications; structure of a XHTML document; TAGs and their functions; adding images and background colours; texts: formatting, alignment, colour and colour changes; hyperlinks.
    – Dreamweaver: hyperlinks; interface and layout in Dreamweaver; panels and property bar; browsing among open documents; xhtml view and design view; setting up a website; create and save pages with Dreamweaver; basic set up (Title, file name, page properties); definition of hyperlink; formatting texts; linking pages; linking “mailto”, anchors and image maps; image size for web design; format for web design; frames and iframe; tables and their usage; site construction with table; Cascading Style Sheets Css; setting a page with css; page layout with Tag Div and Css; dragging Css; window of behaviours; manual insertion of Javascript code; rollover; browser bar; pop-up messages, audio and other Javascript behaviour; importing a Flash animation or a movie.
    To boost the technical abilities with the programme, students will be asked to produce their personal website in association with the Visual Communication Studio.

  • Editorial Design Laboratory
    Luca Pitoni

    The course has a practical orientation; the goals is creating sound editorial products as a result of a teamwork activity. On a theorical level the programme deals with the following topics:
    -the book as object
    -a short book history
    -book anatomy
    -paper formats and marking
    -packaging
    Work organization:
    -layout design
    -specific characters of the editorial design
    -Publishers intervention
    -Analysis of some important examples of the historical and contemporary production
    Work will be dealt with: brief, project review, internal presentation with the discussion of works and final presentation.

  • Information Design Laboratory
    Maria Rosaria Di Gregorio

    The course is intended to supply students with the equipment to reflect on and confront communication artifacts that are commonly referred to in the field as information design. Particular attention will be given to practice, and discussion. To accompany the elaboration of these preliminary designs, some of the themes addressed are:
    1) Information design as a writing system
    – sinsemia and relation between writing and space
    – notational systems and writing
    2) The concept of analogy
    3) Levels of iconism of an image and problems relative to various methods of representation
    4) information design as a problem solver
    – visible variants and various levels of information grouping
    – flow charts and models for mapping graphic designs
    – inferences
    – some theories about problem solving applied to information design
    5) elementary tools in denotative graphics
    – elements of cartography (projections)
    – elements in graphic applied to statistics
    The course has a practical orientation proposing a set of exercises and a final assignment. Considering a theme, it will be analysed, studied and then elaborated graphically. On a weekly base projects are assessed through open presentations. Students’ designs are exchanged in order to test them better. Based on the indications revealed from the test and revisions, designs will be re-worked and refined.

  • Colour Management
    Onnik Pambakian

    The course starts with an introduction to the concept of colour and presents the technical and scientific tools in order to work in a professional context. This is the main program:
    – History and Basic Models: historical outlines of colour models up to Goethe; colour models up to CIE
    -Light and Optical Perception: light as radiation – corpuscle; the electromagnetic and quantum theory; the spectrum; the definition of colour by wavelength; the prism experiment; physiology of the eye; vision as an elaborate sensation; observer’s definition; attributes of perception; perceptive and absolute vision; adaptation of sight to light, the observer’s adaptive process; the blackbody and the Kelvin scale; artificial illuminants; definition of the standard illuminants; spectral prediction applied to pigments and illuminants; metamenrism; experiments with various illuminants; relationships among light, observer and object; metamerism term; colour sampling; outlines on principles to determine the use of special colours.
    – RGB colour methods and profiles: metamerism and the case of cobalt blue; the tristimulus method, XYZ space, LAB, universal space 14; RGB light method; colour spaces and RGB profiles; ICC definition; concept of profile and colour space; gamut; check on the work carried out.
    – CMYK colour Methods and Profiles: review of the exam concepts; the subtractive method; CMYK print method; geometric or stocaistic screen value; screen value optical effects; dithering.
    – CMYK colour and Profiling Methods: separation of black in CMYK; 1 bit canals; GCR and UCR examples putted on files; printing problems (point enlargement, trapping, overprinting); colour management in Postscript documents
    -PS management and disinstallation for the printing; colour in PDF; Check of the plates in PDF. Visit to a typographic company and knowledge of the PRE-print flow, print and finishing; purposes of rendering; profile loss in RIP; characterizations of printing presses; check on the final work; comment on printing test and review of problems; RAW documents and transformation into TIFF; weight calculation in image documents.

  • Visual Design Workshop
    Silvia Sfligiotti

    The purpose of this one-week intensive workshop taking place at the beginning of the year is to identify each and everyone’s design potential and pinpoint strenghts, weaknesses along with critical abilities to be improved.
    Students are asked to devise a catalogue of SPD in the sense of a systematic list of its content items selected according to a peculiar content category chosen by the students themselves. Students will start outlining a peculiar character of the place where they have just arrived and they’ll soon get to know better. Working in pairs they‘ll look for resources (relevant visuals or other information) in the chosen research domain. Contents will have to be arranged according to a specific design language and technique to be identified and proposed by the students.
    The final output will consist into a 16 page catalogue featuring selected information within a defined space and format. Its composition will follow a content-based principle, both concept wise and graphic wise.

  • Graphic Tecnologies
    Fabrizio Levati

    - The printing planet: printing technologies as a design element; print industry: organization, market and production types; outline of basic printing processes and procedures; choice of specific printing process in accordance with characteristics and purpose of the design; printing machines: flat-feed and continuous, offset machines, rotoffset etc…
    – In-depth study of the most widespread printing processes: offset, rotogravure, silk screen; typographic printing: flexography and relief printing; digital printing; moulding: the traditional method, CtP technology
    – Inks
    – paper products and special materials: typologies and features; choice of paper as a creative element; characteristics: weight, thickness, volume, white point; other printing materials: cards, cardboard, PVC and special supports; sheet or bobbin: formats
    – Postproduction: varnishing, laminating, embossing, relief printing…; sample analysis
    – Binding: types of bind; samples analysis
    – Case studies: specific techniques, definition of quantity, format optimization etc.; common mistakes
    – Visits to a printing plant during the production: get to know the press and pre-press workflow; sample analysis, costing and quotation problems

  • Visual Communication: Design Intervention
    Silvia Sfligiotti

    The course aims at giving a wider view on the role of the visual designer in contemporary society. Through the discussion of critical issues, the presentation of case studies and individual research, students will be encouraged to choose a field of intervention where they feel their design proposal can make a difference.
    The final outcome of the course will be a design project, supported by written documentation of research, theoretical background, and design process.

  • Wayfinding Workshop
    Luigi Farrauto

    The workshop focuses on maps and wayfinding systems. Students will deliver a project concerning maps and info-visualization which will be checked weekly through open revisions.
    Some of the themes that will be addressed at a theoretical/methodological level during the revisions are: maps and personal geographies; icons and pictograms; wayfinding: case studies and theories.

  • Processing Workshop
    Andreas Gysin

    The purpose of the workshop is to provide students with an intensive
    experience focussed on complex themes or activities related with processing
    and interaction design. The workshop is intended to stimulate creative
    thinking while rounding off the professional approach. It requires the
    students to acquire the ability to submit a finished result according to the
    guidelines in the brief and within a very tight timeframe. Activities during
    the workshop will cover all the phases in the design process, from the
    concept idea to the final presentation.