Site summary

At the Department of Visual Communication Design at Musashino Art University, we have been working on information design from the field of visual communication, then researching and educating usability, interface, and design. These were started mainly by Professor Shimomura Chihaya (current emeritus professor) who started the experimental classes of computers and designs since the early 1970s and launched an information design class in 1993. Currently, we would like to tackle the problem of the design of the new era under the thought of HCD (human-centered design). This site introduces relevant classes and related information, mainly focusing on the class content of Information Design ⅠA · ⅡA, in the third year of the visual communication design department.

Besides, all responsibility regarding this site is in me (Nishimoto Kiyoshi). Please send us your opinions and inquiries.


Introduction about Retirement Commemorative Magazine "Information + Semiotics + Design".

This is a book by Professor Chihaya Shimomura (now Honorary professor) as a commemorative publication to a part of his lifework.
Research and education of information design and design semiotics in the department of visual communication design

Professor Chihaya Shimomura participated in the movement of the avant-garde of "Art Information Revolution", which created an unprecedented art style in the history of art in the 1960s, and started creation and research activities as a pioneer of computer art. In 1970 he was appointed as a full-time lecturer of the "Commercial design section of Industrial design department" (which was changed to "Visual Communication Design department" in 1974, becoming independent department) at Musashino Art University. Based on that creation and research, he was always able to quickly grasp the transformation of the information age, explored new design education, and had been reflecting it in the curriculum. For over 40 years, he has been thinking about the role and possibility of contemporary design by integrating various fields such as semiotics, information aesthetics, computer, multimedia, interface, visual language, formative theory, cognitive science, media theory, etc.
It was a very essential activity of study and education. The idea of designing the form of the dialogue between people and information emerging from these studies, that is, the active, interactive vision of information design, is not familiar with traditional interpretive and passive art Education Thing. However, now that computers exist in every corner of life and have to cope with sudden changes in the natural environment and social conditions, the importance of the vision is becoming more and more obvious. So incorporating them into education, training the students who can adapt to society and create art of the next era is an urgent issue. This commemorative magazine "Information + Semiotics + Design" is introducing his study about information design and design semiotics which is a part of the research and educational activities of Prof. Shimomura for many years. It is including the exercise works of related classes of students and the current field of information design and the graduation production of the former students.

Construction of this book

Part 1: Information Design, Creation of design area of information age, "Thinking Visually!" : Foundation of information design

  1. Prologue: Curriculum Reform of Information Design in the Department of Visual Communication Design
  2. Keynote Paper: Information Design: Design of Interfaces as Cognitive Artifacts / Interactive Artifacts
  3. Record of educational practice of information design: Faculty: Graduation work, Graduate school: Master's work / research
  4. Contributed Paper: Beginning of Computer graphics and programming

Part 2: Design Semiotics / Pragmatism of Modern Design Semiotics

  1. Prologue: Encountering Information and Symbols
  2. Keynote Paper: An Attempt to Connect Informatics and Semiotics through Information Design
  3. Design Semiotics Education in the Department of Visual Communication Design
  4. Overseas Exchange Program about Design Semiotics Introduction of Semiotics Project (Special Class) by Professor Thomas Ockers
  5. Contributed paper: A basic study of design semiotics 30 symbol groups characterizing 66 symbol classes

If you would like this book

Professor Chihaya Shimomura's "Commemorative Information + Semiotics + Design, 'Information Design and Design Semiotics Research and Education in Department of Visual Communication Design' " (2012) will be distributed to those interested in this field.
Please specify your occupation, desired motive, shipping address, name, etc. and apply to the address below. After confirming the contents, we will send it by postage cash on delivery later.

What is Information Design?

"Information Design" is a completely new design realm and thinking that were created by the emergence of a dramatically changed information environment:

The explosive spread of the Internet and the development of mobile communication devices such as smartphones have dramatically changed the information environment surrounding people. Now, people use their mobile devices to communicate with their friends far away, reserve tickets, shop online, go conveniently with map guidance using GPS. And even autonomous cars using AI are also appearing. I would like young people who will learn from now to work on the design of present-day media and future-oriented media closely related to life and sensitivity. in the new field there is the possibility of more integrated design than the traditional one and the connection between international design.

All design areas are currently in the midst of the information and communications technology (IT) revolution, such as computers and the Internet. "Information design" is a completely new "design realm" and "a thinking" created by the advent of computers, software, multimedia, the Internet, and mobile communications. It is a golden chance for the creator to coming across such a design revolution and the opportunities of creation.
Information design involves the design of interactive activity processes between humans, social systems, information, representations (symbols), events, environments, information networks, etc., which are necessary for humans to act collaboratively in the information society. Information design recognition and technology are assembled from the following six basic processes.

Six basic processes:

  1. Cognitive process:

    Humans form activities to live through interactive interactions with events, environments, representations, systems and so on. Information design studys design based on cognitive processes that organize human behavior and communication.

  2. Human Interface (HI)::

    Humans interact with the real world and cyberspace via media (HI) such as computers and virtual reality in order to operate in a digital information environment.

  3. Interactive Visualization:

    The display / representation form of media to function in synchronization with the ever-changing human activity requires a visual system with a dynamic and multi-sense.

  4. Network communication:

    The Internet, which enables individuals to transmit information to the world, links people and information in a wide area, supports collaborative activities, and creates an information community.

  5. Information Rules, Algorithm:

    Information processes are formed in the language and order unique to the information world. Information content and systems are assembled from digital specific procedures.

  6. Sociality and Philosophy of Information Design:

    New design directions and ideas are needed to solve the problems of the information environment facing modern society and the global environment through design activities in life and society. How can designers use their individuality and creativity to participate in society?

Class summary

How to proceed to the first and second semester

Starting with the basics of use experiments of users, we will consider information design issues through practical training of issues set in stages. Among them, systematically understand the relationship between information characteristics and human cognition, and learn to apply it to concrete production of information design

Program of learning

First of all, “Design is an integrated and social one that integrates various requirements such as people, life, society, information, environment, etc., elements, functions, technologies, expressions, and achieves practical purposes and value creation as a whole.” This is the original purpose of the design and most important to recognize and practice it.
The program in this class includes four aspects of learning to plan and build information systems and networks.

  1. Integrated Design Exercise (Method, Production and Practice)
  2. Integrated design exercises are the most important process to learn the wholeness and integration of design activities (the purpose of action and the creation of integrativeness and value). In this exercise, we will create an information system with a social purpose (for example, an information system that supports joint activities). This exercise aims to learn the integration skills and methodology of information design by practicing to analyze information, find problems, concept and plan, system design and production, interaction design, simulation, user test.

  3. Information elements of interactive design and practice of technology (elements and technology)
  4. What is required to design and produce digital media is the learning of literacy and technology specific to the field of information design, for example, navigation, dynamic information structure, software language, 3D-CG, database, etc.

  5. Information and society, Deepening of historical awareness (background and knowledge)
  6. What is the information? How have people been handling the information? Follow the history of media development and deepen awareness of the diversity of information visualization.

  7. Presentation and information dissemination
  8. The learning work process of information design takes place on the Internet. Students will make presentations, send information, and interact towards the inside and outside of the university.

Flow of class

"Class planning: first semester"

[Week 1 to 7] Communication and cognition (the first task)

∼ What factors and how are the "messages" changed and transformed in the process in which people communicate? ∼
Through experiments, we will learn how human cognitive mechanisms are involved in communication design.
At the same time, we aim to learn how to record experiments and how to analyze information.

Concurrent classes in the first semester

[weeks 1-12 ]
Internet and programming learning and website creation (Programming supplement)

Also, you will learn web site creation technology using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and expression technology of interactive visualization simultaneously. In the task production of the first and second semesters, students apply it to design, put it on the website, and give a presentation.

[weeks 6-10 ]
"The Design of Everyday Things" Experience report exercise

At the same time, Students are required to read "The Design of Everyday Things - Revised and Expanded Edition" (DA Norman), and then research design problems that can be found in daily life and surroundings. After that, students are supposed to make reports about the problem in light of the content written in the book. These reports and summaries will be uploaded to the web as HTML files.

"Class planning: Second half of the first semester - second semester"

The second semester is the most important process in which students set the theme of information design and try creative design based on the basic ideas, methods, and technologies of information design learned in the previous term.。 Students will learn about the design process for integrated thinking and problem-solving in design, ie, (concept establishment - field research - theme planning - specification and function design - prototype design - interface design - user test and evaluation) through tasks proposed by themselves.

[Weeks 11-16] Exploring the possibilities of acts change (the second task)

Students will study actor network theory and investigate networks of acts related to specific social themes. Various research methods: through observations, interviews, and experimental research using prototypes (Research through Design), we will gradually find the process of change. Ultimately, based on the survey results, each student will come up with an improvement plan and give a presentation.

[weeks 17-27 ] From exploring the theme of information with sociality to proposing information design (the third task)

First, we will hold a workshop on "design thinking" and then students take up a subject matter around themselves and try to solve problems using the process of "design thinking".

Students apply and develop information design skills, techniques, theories, methods, processes, etc. learned in the first and second semesters, freely set themes related to information design, and create their designs. In particular, in the midst of the global turmoil caused by the new coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19), a new spirit of the younger generation is required to respond to the rapidly changing information society and the increasingly serious global environment.