To view prices and purchase online, please login or create an account now.

Reading Graphic Design in Cultural Context


Main Details

Title Reading Graphic Design in Cultural Context
Authors and Contributors      By (author) Grace Lees-Maffei
By (author) Nicolas P. Maffei
Physical Properties
Dimensions(mm): Height 246,Width 189
Category/GenreArt and design styles - from c 1900 to now
Graphic design
Product design
ISBN/Barcode 9780857858009
Tertiary Education (US: College)
Illustrations 25 colour and 84 bw illus

Publishing Details

Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Imprint Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Publication Date 25 February 2016
Publication Country United Kingdom


Reading Graphic Design in Cultural Context explains key ways of understanding and interpreting the graphic designs we see all around us, in advertising, branding, packaging and fashion. It situates these designs in their cultural and social contexts. Drawing examples from a range of design genres, leading design historians Grace Lees-Maffei and Nicolas P. Maffei explain theories of semiotics, postmodernism and globalisation, and consider issues and debates within visual communication theory such as legibility, the relationship of word and image, gender and identity, and the impact of digital forms on design. Their discussion takes in well-known brands like Alessi, Nike, Unilever and Tate, and everyday designed things including slogan t-shirts, car advertising, ebooks, corporate logos, posters and music packaging.

Author Biography

Grace Lees-Maffei is Professor of Design History at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. Nicolas P. Maffei is Senior Lecturer in Graphics at Norwich University of the Arts, UK.


Includes an excellent historical framing of the discipline's transformations, both as a professional field and as an object of scholarly research ... The "expanded field" approach allows first for a richer and more complex understanding of design processes, liberated from the mere concern of commercial constraints and objectives and aesthetics ambitions and successes ... [The book is] a perfect match of graphic design in all its diversity, a clever analysis of the multiple interfaces that structure the back and forth movements between design and society, and a smart example of good writing ... An excellent springboard to further analysis and an invitation to return to traditional examples whose interpretation is still confined to strictly commercial or essentially art-historical schemata. The iconography is well-chosen, and the central full color section is a pleasure for the eye and the mind. * Leonardo Reviews * In this critical yet accessible book, Grace Lees-Maffei and Nicolas P. Maffei shift the popular perception of graphic design from surface treatment to complex cultural practice. * D.J. Huppatz, Associate Professor of Architecture and Design at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia * Reading Graphic Design in Cultural Context is a refreshing and insightful contribution to design history and a valuable resource for teachers, students, and scholars of visual communication. This engaging set of historical case studies expands the discipline to consider such topics as the colonization of public space in both print and digital media; the relationship between legibility and ambiguity in modern and postmodern design; gender, race, and desire in fashion photography and advertising; wide-ranging information graphics from maps and sign systems to the "quantified self"; slogan t-shirts; music packaging; corporate brand identity; concerns for environmental sustainability; visual techniques of persuasion in guide books and advice literature; and the evolving medium of the book. It offers a clearly written, accessible, and compelling argument that semiotics continues to provide a dynamic, flexible model for making sense of a world increasingly saturated by visual signs today. It is an excellent critical guide, the best written thus far, to the study of signs, which emerged in structural linguistics and anthropology of Ferdinand de Saussure and Claude Levi-Strauss in the early twentieth century, and which evolved in the work of Charles Peirce and Roland Barthes. Students as well as general readers will appreciate this clear and concise overview of a topic that can easily confound even the sharpest thinkers. * Rebecca Houze, Professor of Art and Design History at Northern Illinois University, USA *