FREE: A DESIGN EDUCATORS WORKSHOP            07.21-23.17     




We believe that “design education is now the only area of graphic design in which one can be truly innovative.” :- /

FREE is our proof of concept.

It is a workshop that explores the radical potential of the artifacts and platforms of design education (tools, projects, presentations, prompts, resource lists and the like) as spaces for new forms of critical writing, making, and discourse. It invites design educators to imagine, debate, test drive and flesh-out the impractical, the impossible and the extreme in a space that is free from the constraints of  the institution, expectation and convention.

Part working group and part think tank, teams will work fast and furiously in articulating a vision/mission statement/manifesto and generating responses in the form of a collection of pedagogical artifacts, platforms and other unforeseen outcomes that will be posted to an ongoing archive of online resources for graphic design educators and students. Finally, teams will present, debate, discuss their outcomes, beliefs, values, and interests in an informal public presentation.

To allow for the broadest outreach to our peers, we are offering this workshop at no charge for accepted participants. We encourage design educators from all types of institutions and programs to apply. To apply, please email Workshop Project at Applications are due March 31, 2017.


This workshop and the outcomes we make are meant to articulate and respond to an ideological position about an urgent issue in design education. This summer will be a battle royale that troubles an old dichotomy:  

Post-formalism vs. Hyper-formalism in design education?!

When you register, you will choose a side and join a team. There is no middle position. Teams will adopt a rhetorical position advocating either post-formalism or hyper-formalism as a key tenet of contemporary design education. In response to this position, teams will build a collection of pedagogical artifacts, tools and other unforeseen outcomes to be distributed via an online archive that is freely available to design educators and students worldwide.


                Workshop Project: Yasmin Khan + Jessica Wexler

                MFA Program in Graphic Design, Otis College of Art and Design

In collaboration with Anja Groten / Hackers and Designers


1. develop ways to articulate and present your vision and ideas about what a post- or hyper- formal design education values, looks like, feels like, sounds like, is delivered, and so on.

2. write / make / create / conceptualize a series of pedagogical artifacts and tools for educators and/or students at any level. These artifacts may range from the traditional (readers, projects, workshops, prompts, briefs, bibliographies, webinars) to the non-traditional (experiences, engagements and other platforms for delivery) to the speculative.

3. distribute the pedagogical tools and artifacts generated during the workshop through the FREE online resource.

4. debate in a discussion / informal presentation of outcomes, where each team advocates for their post-formal or hyper-formal agenda.

There is no prescribed form or format for the outcomes, apart from the provision that they be published, sharable and accessible to the public. The visual form, format and media will depend on the interests, goals and agenda of the participants. 


                July 20-23, 2017

WHERE        :        Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045

The College is located on the west side of Los Angeles, minutes away from Los Angeles International Airport and Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan Beach and the museums of Exposition Park. It is about 45 minutes drive from the Downtown Los Angeles area (Silver Lake, Echo Park MOCA, Little Tokyo, Chinatown).

                Accommodations are available at the neighboring Custom Hotel for a discounted rate.


—Create a space for critical discourse on design education

—Explore the potential of artifacts of design education as platforms for innovative pedagogy

—Redefine teaching as a form of critical inquiry

—Imagine new formal outcomes and structures for design educators and students

        —Discover unforeseen pedagogical approaches and outcomes through process and discourse

—Examine and rethink the relationship of the educator to institution


        To request an application, please email Workshop Project at



 FREE for accepted applicants.



There is no new.

There is no old.

There is no outside.

There is only inside.

There is no “beyond” to reach.

There is only the heavily burdened now 

and the full immersion in its richness, messiness, complexity and chaos.

What should a graphic designer working in this context be?

A form maker

Intensely visually, culturally, and technologically literate

Involved in global and local culture at multiple scales/levels of engagement

An avid and critical consumer of all media and sources of information

A participant in online/social media content generation

Immersed in a broad range of styles expressed in a broad range of media

Willing to investigate and negotiate cultural/ideological flatness and other forms of shifting/emerging cultural hierarchy

Skilled with traditional, contemporary and emerging form-making techniques and technologies

Simultaneously synthetic and the authentic

A shape-shifter...


Today’s state of cultural literacy is characterized by:

A non-critical culture of “browsing” fueled by digital media that flattens hierarchies of value and quality

A dilution of expertise, specific knowledge, and considered points of view

A proliferation of re-presentations of cultural artifacts that are divorced from original context, audience, and author

A culture of “likes” and “hates” wherein respectful discourse is replaced by comments and re-posting

A lack of skepticism or criticality of media that results in a shallowness of knowledge and lack of exposure to divergent, contradictory or minority perspectives

The increasing availability and sophistication of graphic design tools and templates

Form is no longer an end in itself, but rather a by-product of process and inquiry.

The Post-Formal approach to graphic design is concerned with:

        Formal agility over formal innovation

        Inquiry over commentary

        Technology over technique

        Critically engaging with problematic contemporary hierarchies over obeying traditional hierarchies

Crafting process over crafting outcomes

The non-formal, a-formal, non-visual, multi-modal and speculative over default, standard visual formats

Identifying and defining criteria for excellence across media over technical mastery of specific media

        Locating one’s practice in the landscape of contemporary discourse over personal voice

Learning to assess new unknown known over collecting the known known

Balancing skepticism and imagination


Name:                 FREE  A Design Education Workshop

Location:         Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90045

Web site:

Duration:        4 days / 3 nights

Dates:                  July 20-July 23, 2017

Workshop Fee:        US $0 (free)

Travel:                 the closest airport is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

         Taxi to Otis from LAX is approx. US $20; free shuttle from LAX to Custom Hotel

Accommodation:  Rooms at the Custom Hotel are available at a conference rate of $100 per night

                The Custom Hotel is walking distance to Otis College of Art and Design

Short description of event:

An annual workshop that explores the radical potential of design education as a space for new forms of critical writing, experimentation and vehicles for discourse in graphic design education. The workshop is structured as a working group and think tank where attendees debate an urgent issue in design education. This year’s issue is Post-Formalism vs. Hyper-Formalism as the Basis of Contemporary Design Education. An international group of designers from public and private institutions will engage in dialogue and share perspectives and experience about this issue.

Attendees will break into 2 teams and will work in a collaborative process to generate open-ended outcomes related to design education ranging from the traditional (projects, syllabi, prompts, readers, bibliographies, etc) to the experimental/speculative (engagements, experiences). The outcomes produced by the attendees will be disseminated via the conference web site for public use.

The workshop is offered to accepted participants at no cost. However, participants will be required to cover the cost of their own travel, lodging, meals, and supplies at the workshop.


How this workshop contributes to your professional development:

On a practical level:

—Collaborate on, author and publish open source, speculative and practical teaching materials and other artifacts that address contemporary issues in design education

—Build stronger critique and discursive skills with seasoned educators

—Engage in critical discourse surrounding new platforms and structures for design education

—Explore the potential of artifacts of design education as platforms for innovative pedagogy

—Learn from peer educators’ experience in different countries, cultures and types of institutions

On a conceptual level:

—Redefine teaching as a form of critical inquiry

—Imagine new formal outcomes and structures for design educators and students

        —Challenge preconceptions and traditional limitations to design pedagogy and content delivery

On a networking/relationship-building level:

—Collaborate with ambitious, forward-thinking design educators

—Engage with an international group of educators from a wide range of institutions and

types of programs