Beyond awareness: inclusive design for Graphic Communication

This week, Part 2 Graphic Communication students completed the inclusive design component of their integrated design modules. Building on the series of workshops (see BdB blog) we did earlier in the term and relevant readings, on Monday, students presented seminar papers to their peers on particular aspects of inclusive design.


Group photo inclusive design

On Monday, our Graphic Communication students presented inclusive design seminars to their peers (from left to right): Jordan Bellinger, Lewis Burfield, Maciej Bykowski, Fenella Astley, Rajvir Bhogal, Stephanie Boateng, Cherise Booker, June Lin and (front) Jordan Cairns.


Students discussed and debated, aspects such as:

  • The principles of inclusive design and how designers can make these achievable in real life projects
  • How design briefs often tend to create segregation and how designers can develop more inclusive solutions to briefs
  • The clear print debate – what the guidelines are, who they are for and how implementing these can differ for professional designers and everyday communicators
  • The challenges and key considerations of inclusive design for screen – including the use of colour, images, sound and navigation
  • Key debates and typographic research for inclusive design for children’s reading, focusing on readers who may have dyslexia or visual impairments
  • Inclusive wayfinding – including challenges and innovative proposals for solutions in contemporary design practice.

Students commented that the inclusive design workshops, readings and seminars they have done have helped them become “more consciously aware” of how important it is to consider inclusive design in their own work and how designers may have to take responsibility for designing inclusively for a range of users. The highlighted how it is important to realise that the people they are designing for are probably “not the same as you (the designer)” and that inclusive design is “not just being aware” but about embedding inclusive practices in our industry. They also noted that these seminars had made them aware that there is “not enough research” about inclusive design within our discipline.

Information design, architecture and pharmacy: combating AMR


Calling small design practices, architects, information designers and pharmacists

Are you interested in how the design of space and information impacts on behavior and consumer choice? Do you want to work in public health and wellbeing? Do you want to develop research in practice? Are you up for the challenge of interdisciplinary work in the community?  

About our research project

How can architectural and information design help in the fight against anti-microbial resistance (AMR)?

Using principles of user-centred design, we are working with pharmacists and pharmacy workers to consider how to ‘improve the knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance’. The AHRC-funded project ‘Information Design and Architecture in Persuasive Pharmacy Space: combating AMR’ (IDAPPS) aims to stimulate ideas for an engaging, inspirational, didactic information space to raise awareness of the dangers of anti-microbial resistance in a community pharmacy.

One of our research outputs is a competition and this is where we’d like your help. Competition teams will begin designing in our Ideas Lab, supported by a team of academics from information design, architecture, pharmacy, and human factors, as well as design and pharmacy practitioners.

Our pharmacy partner is Day Lewis and the winning design will be installed in a Day Lewis pharmacy for evaluation. Interested?

Get more information and how to enter a team for the competition here.



Become a Design Star PhD student

We are now open for applications for PhD studentships through Design Star, one of the Centres for Doctoral Training funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

At Reading we have nine Design Star students working on a range of topics, including collections-based research on non-Latin typefaces and typography; maps and wayfinding in museums; the print industry and graphic design in the 20th century; decision-making for elderly care, and book design for people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Design Star students benefit from working with other consortium students at Brighton, Loughborough, Goldsmiths and the OU, as well as external partners, to understand the ways in which design research interacts with many academic disciplines and walks of life. We aim to engage our doctoral researchers from the start and Rachel Warner commented on attending our induction event:

‘As a new student embarking on my research under the umbrella of Design Star, Friday’s Design Star event offered many opportunities to connect with fellow researchers and find out more about the diversity of experience and skills of all Design Star students. A workshop, organised by the student rep Jocelyn, culminated in group discussions about the range of research methods and research themes across our work, Design Star values and putting these in to practice, as well as Design Star current and future. New ideas and collaboration potential were evident from the animated conversations and wealth of ideas presented, exciting for a new researcher starting out, and providing huge potential for future collaborations’.

Find out how to apply:

Celebrating with Coralie Bickford-Smith

We were delighted to see alumna Coralie Bickford-Smith receive an Honorary doctorate at last week’s graduation.

When she left Reading, Coralie worked for publishers on a freelance basis, and after a short stint with Quadrille Publishing, she went on to join Penguin where she made a name for herself as a highly-respected, award-winning book cover designer.

In her work at Penguin, Coralie has shown particular skill in creating covers for series of books, such as Penguin Pocket Classics, the Cloth-bound Classics and the Gothic Horror. Her skill lies in combining distinctive use of images and patterns, colours, and production processes that derive from understanding of traditional printing techniques. Through her work she has revived the tradition of the decorated cloth-bound book, but such that it has a modern-day feel.

Coralie has said that William Morris and William Blake have been inspired her work. However, it is William Blake –  with his immersive and integrative approach to book making –  that is best reflected in Coralie’s wonderful book that she authored and illustrated: The Fox and the Star. This compelling story and remarkable illustrations is thoroughly engaging for the reader and demonstrates book design skill at the highest level. For this work has won numerous awards including Waterstones Book of the Year in 2015 and The Academy of British Book Design prize in 2016.

We eagerly await the publication of her next book The worm and the bird.

Emigre magazine: design, discourse and authorship

Emigre 11 cover, ‘Ambition/fear’, 1989


An exhibition in the Department
12 June – 14 July 2017

Emigre magazine, co-founded in California in 1984 by Rudy VanderLans, was a provocative and highly adventurous fusion of self-publishing, critical writing and experimental typography. This exhibition investigates a key period in the development of graphic design as a form of authorship and shows how Emigre’s page designs and typefaces embodied new thinking about the designer’s role in communication.

Interviews with April Greiman and Glenn Suokko in Emigre 11, ‘Ambition/fear’, 1989. The early issues of Emigre coincided with the adoption of Macintosh computers by graphic designers. Emigre 11 is devoted to a series of interviews with designers about the new tool. The magazine’s pages often offered multiple reading paths.

With an initial print run of 3,000–5,000 copies, the magazine was supported by a design studio, Emigre Graphics, and by a digital type foundry led by VanderLans’ partner Zuzana Licko. Emigre published 69 issues in a range of formats, from tabloid to paperback book, before closing in 2005, and it was probably the most admired, influential and criticised design magazine of its era.

Emigre 15 cover, ‘Do you read me?’, 1990. This issue, focused on new typefaces and legibility, features typeface designs and interviews with Peter Mertens, Zuzana Licko, John Downer, Jeffery Keedy and Barry Deck, among others.

In the 1990s, the idea that graphic design could be a form of authorship was the focus of intense debate among designers. VanderLans created a vital forum for discussion during a period of rapid change and Emigre’s design and content inspired an international network of visual communicators. The magazine was an era-defining example of entrepreneurial design authorship, which still has lessons for self-publishers today, and a platform where designers could explore the relationship of writing and design.

The exhibition, co-curated by MA Book Design student Francisca Monteiro and Prof. Rick Poynor, draws from the University of Reading’s Special Collections and Rick’s personal collection. The display is divided into sections that reflect the range of Emigre’s activities:

Rudy VanderLans as editor
The Emigre type foundry led by Zuzana Licko
VanderLans as a graphic author
The Emigre Music record label
Emigre as a space for collaborative authorship for designers and writers
Emigre considered in context


Breaking down Barriers wins CIOB award for innovation

Typography students use simulation tools to appraise whether information in everyday contexts are presented in visually inclusive ways

Breaking down Barriers (BdB) – our multidisciplinary inclusive design project – has received a Highly Commended Award for Innovation in Education and Training in the 2016 Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) International Innovation & Research Awards Scheme.

BdB champions a unique cross-disciplinary initiative to embed inclusive design across the University. Our BdB vision is to ensure Reading graduates across all disciplines advocate inclusion in their professional practices and bring real benefits to the everyday lives of all users, particularly people with conditions related to ageing and/or cognitive and physical disabilities. In Typography, we are engaging with inclusive design across a range of professional design contexts, including digital, packaging, print and wayfinding applications.

Typography students say that our BdB workshops have helped them “gain insight as to how thoughtful design can influence other industries and how we as designers must work together with these other industries in order to make the lives of the people that need a helping hand that little bit easier”.

CIOB Innovation and Research Awards highlight the importance of innovation and research in raising performance levels, enhancing best practice and improving the quality of the built environment. The CIOB judges said: “This innovation in education is a practical, engaging and demonstrable way to bring to life a real social challenge with widespread value and application. The innovation shows a genuine commitment to invest in the UK’s building stock and educate the next generation of professionals to ensure the needs of all users of a facility are firmly met.”

BdB began as an exciting collaboration between the School of Built Environment, the Henley Business School and the School of Arts and Communication Design in 2015. Since then we have been joined by staff within the School of Biological Sciences and collaborated with the Centre for Staff Development and, most recently, the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, as well as external partners.


Irmi Wachendorff awarded competitive research studentship

Visiting lecturer Irmi Wachendorff

Congratulations to Visiting Lecturer, Irmi Wachendorff who has been awarded a studentship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. Irmi’s doctoral research at the University of Duisburg-Essen explores social positioning through typographic variation in linguistic landscapes.

Irmi has joined the Department for the spring term as a visiting lecturer from Folkwang University of Arts. Drawing on her extensive professional experience working in Germany, Switzerland and Australia, she is primarily working with our Part 2 students on practical projects while she is in Reading. She is also leading a new theme in the Design Thinking module: “Graphic design theory: Reflecting practice”.

Staff exchanges play a key role in knowledge exchange and we are pleased to have Irmi with us to share her cross-disciplinary expertise and professional experience. Welcome to the Deparment, Irmi, and congratulations on your achievement!

MA/MA Res Open Day: Thursday 9 March 2017

Masters students

We will be holding a Postgraduate Open Day at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication on Thursday 9 March 2017. The day is primarily aimed at students who are interested in pursuing a Masters degree with us. See our Departmental pages for our portfolio of courses.

On the day we will assemble after 10:00, and follow this schedule:
• 10.00 Coffee and sign-in
• 10.30 Introduction to the Department
• 11.00 Information sessions on MA programmes
• 13:00 Opportunity to sit in on a postgraduate seminar

Please email us if you are interested in attending, directions, or if you have any questions.

A Partnership for Ephemera Studies

Typography is very pleased to announce an exciting new Goodwill Partnership between the Centre for Ephemera Studies (one of our research centres) and the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library (University of Oxford). Commenting on this new initiative, Julie Anne Lambert, Librarian of the John Johnson Collection said:

The John Johnson Collection is delighted to partner the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading. Our joint aim is to further the academic and popular potential of ephemera to cast light on the everyday lives of our forebears through the documents they themselves saw and handled. We are particularly excited to work with the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication in exploring the materiality of ephemera in their (often innovative) design and printing.

The Partnership will include working together on exhibitions, symposia, funding applications, projects with postgraduate and undergraduate students, and sharing of expertise on cataloguing, conservation, and print identification and conservation. It will reinforce the potential of ephemera to engage academics from a wide range of disciplines as well as the public.

Professor Roberta Gilchrist, Research Dean for Heritage and Creativity at Reading supports the collaboration:

The University of Reading warmly welcomes the new partnership between the Centre for Ephemera Studies and the Bodleian Library, John Johnson Collection. The collaboration will highlight the rich potential of ephemera to illuminate the history of everyday life and to inspire new approaches to  printing and design.

The examples below are from the Rickards Collection and the John Johnson Collection.


Soapbox host one of our typography summer placements

IMG_0923 copy

Visiting student Gabriela Lyrio Assreuy (far right) joined design studio Soapbox for her summer placement. Gabriela is pictured here with Soapbox’s team of Reading alumni from our BA and MA programmes (from left to right): Žiga Kropivišek, Megan Weston, Francesca Romano and Rachel Bray. Photo: Cormac Bakewell

Our Part 2 visiting student, Gabriela Lyrio Assreuy is spending her summer enjoying a stimulating, two-month placement at Soapbox. The London-based studio specialises in design that ‘helps leading policy, research and advocacy organisations to communicate their ideas’ and is the home to a number of Typography alumni from our BA and MA programmes (see pic). 

Gabriela says: ‘At Soapbox I’m having the opportunity to watch closely how a successful design studio is run and how to deal with real demands, clients and timelines. Besides that, I have been able to work alongside other designers in different sorts of projects mostly permeating print design, such as publication design, infographics, branding. From typesetting to creative design processes, I am putting my abilities to practice and gaining new valuable skills and knowledge that will be essential to build a successful career.’

Soapbox designer and MAID alumnus, Žiga Kropivšek commented: ‘Introducing new colleagues to the work process is always a struggle, that is why working with Gabriela has been such a delight. She was very quick to learn all the tricks and, coming from Reading, we knew she would have a sharp eye for typographic detail. It has been very valuable for our company that we could entrust her with more complex jobs so quickly and her ambitiousness and creativity surprise us again and again.’

Gabriela is a visiting student from Brazil. She has spent this year at Reading as part of the Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science without Borders) scheme. Since 2013–4,Typography & Graphic Communication have hosted three visiting students as part of this scheme. It’s been great having Gabriela in our part 2 cohort and we wish her well as she returns to her studies in Brazil.