Globalization affects design

Globalization affects design

By Jessi Savino

Dietmar R. Winkler has been making graphic design history for the past 40 years. Winkler spoke about the effects of globalization on culture at a lecture last night in Shillman Hall.

In his lecture, Winkler explained globalization as a gradual process that attempts to absorb minority cultures.

“Globalization favors the dominating cultures and subverts those that are smaller and less powerful,” he said.

Winkler went on to discuss the importance of being “in touch” with the materials involved in design, and explained this connection cannot be adequately achieved through the movement of a mouse.

He said globalization has destroyed this personal touch.

“When translating an Italian love poem into English, as many are, much of the meaning is lost because English doesn’t have the hand and body movements that are so much a part of the Italian language,” he said.

The lecture was not the only opportunity for students to draw life lessons from Winkler’s experiences. As one of Northeastern’s three visiting artists for the spring semester, Winkler teaches an upper-level graphic design class. John Kane, a graphic designer for 30 years, is a visual arts lecturer at Northeastern and the author of the book “A Type Primer.”

Christine VanEtten, a middler graphic design major, agrees it is important to hold on to the meaning behind art.

“[Winkler] made some good points – we should go back to studying the philosophy and theories behind design,” VanEtten said. “And he’s right that we’ll learn the impersonal aspects on our own, while doing them.”

“Dietmar is an innovative thinker and practitioner who is extremely well-regarded in both the academic and design worlds,” Kane said. “We know he’s a terrific teacher, and being in the classroom with him is a terrific experience.”

Winkler was first educated in design in Hamburg, Germany, and is now a professor emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Advisors to Visible Language journal, for which he has written on design and educational issues and has had papers published in the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the International Council of Graphic Arts and Design Associations.

Winkler has also worked as Type and Design Director for Brandeis University, Harvard Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the WGBH Educational Foundation. His design work has been awarded, exhibited and published around the world.

The Visiting Artist idea is not new to Northeastern, but this is its first year as a formal program. Last term there was only one artist, and the visual arts department didn’t feel all the students benefited from it. This term there are three, bringing more experience to the art department.

Kane believes the biggest benefit students will get from Winkler is the exposure to “someone who’s lived what they’re studying.”

“Art students have gotten so much better in the last five years,” Kane said. “We have to work really hard to keep up with them and give them what they need to go out and be as good as we know they can be. Exposing them to [designers like Winkler] will help do that.”

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