Design in Context

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“ A style does not go out of style as long as it adopts to its period. When there is an incompatibility between the style and a certain state of mind, it is never the style that triumphs.” Coco Chanel

Visual communications are a reflection of their time and often depict the fashion, taste and trends of a period. The impact of social change can be clearly seen in many areas of design including fashion, architecture, graphic design and product design. What was confronting imagery thirty years ago may be quite acceptable today. Fashion and design trends often reflect historical references and past artistic traditions.

Materials and media used in the production of visual communications change due to the influences of new technologies, and concerns about ongoing environmental impact.

The application of design elements and principles is particularly susceptible to change in fashion and taste. Illustrations or symbols and their colours and shapes, for instance may change over time as they acquire political or cultural significance beyond their original purpose ( e.g. the swastika )


There are recognizable links and influences that flow through the history of visual communication. Designers look to historical sources for the following.
* Inspiration and ideas for new design concepts.
* Information about techniques and methods of production. * Analysis of successes and failures as reference for design concepts. * Classic use of design elements and principles that have endured and remain effective


To understand some of the historical influences that effect contemporary design, it is valuable to have a general grasp of key design developments over the past 150 years. There are many excellent reference books which present detailed information about design movements from arts and crafts of the 19th century to post modernism and design in the digital era. The...
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