case western reserve university



  • COG 301: Cognition and Design.
  • Spring 2008. Per Aage Brandt.

    Urbanism is design; architecture is design; of course, the aesthetic shaping of artifacts (such as cars or coffee machines) is design. Configuring surfaces, volumes, and portions of space in special ways, creating and changing formats for things and places that allow cultural practices to unfold, are essential "designing" endeavors of human civilization and are, necessarily, activities based on the cognitive capacities of our species. We "cognize" the human world in terms of "designed" surroundings. Design is a basic expressive activity, by which we interact with our artificial and natural surroundings and create "interfaces" between mind and reality, thus upholding an interpretable world.
    Landscapes and cityscapes, work spaces of all sorts, buildings and parks, exteriors and interiors of homes, factories, and temples; furniture, artifacts such as machines, tools, weapons, symbolic objects, even our own bodies, are design.
    An inquiry into cultural cognition, aiming to understand how humans as social beings think and feel, therefore needs to explore this dimension of spatial expressivity and acknowledge it as a constitutive fact of human meaning production, and needs to study the aesthetic and pragmatic, political and historical, philosophical and religious, and other semiotic aspects of this basic form of human creativity.
    This course will focus on spatial expressivity – design – in several primary keys and scales, including design for learning; design for verbal and technical communication, interaction, and commerce; design for expressions of authority; and design for emotional display.

    The course will offer ample opportunities for empirical analyses, presentations, and include two written assignments. Grading is based on active participation (50%), presentations (25%), assignments (25%).

  • Cross, Nigel. 2006. Designerly Ways of Knowing. London: Springer.

  • Eastman, C., Newstetter, W., McCracken, M. 2001. Design knowing and learning:
    cognition in design education
    . New York: Elsevier. The journal Design Studies.