Traveling Through Time and the Consideration of Design (TTTCD)

By Kevan Nitzberg, August 2, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Design History

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Seven to eight 85-minute class periods


Through the study of the progression of design over time, students will develop a greater understanding of how societal and environmental effects existing during each period of time impacted the development of design styles.  In addition, students will develop an awareness of what those forces were and through that understanding, will develop their own design project that will evidence what the future might in fact ‘look like’. As a result of this project, students will engage in the following instruction:
  • Research-based learning
  • Understanding of the principles of design and utilization of the elements of design
  • How various characteristics of design were employed in different eras
  • Some of the underlying factors that are historically relevant to the creation of design style
  • How to utilize computer software and other technological tools for the creation of artwork*
  • How to utilize various computer software programs and transfer information between them*
  • How to create and utilize effective communication tools
*See Note at end of the Objectives  

National Standards

Art Connections Standard 1. Understands connections among the various art forms and other disciplines 2.  Knows how characteristics of the arts vary within a particular historical period or style and how these characteristics relate to ideas, issues, or themes in other disciplines. Visual Arts Standard 2. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art 1.  Understands how the characteristics and structures of art are used to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other artistic intentions Technology* Standard 2.  Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs *See Note at end of the Objectives

 Common Core Standard

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


  • Students select a man-made product that evidences marked visual change through growth over time. Explore a series of at least 5 different stages of development that are evidenced through notable design changes that have altered the appearance and/or functionality of the category of item selected. Through both text and images, communicate those changes and how they affected the design of the item.
  • Objects for consideration might be selected from (but are not necessarily limited to), the following categories: transportation, architecture, interior design/furniture/household furnishings, fashion, recreation, communication, technology, education, industry, landscape design.
  • Specific historical periods, style designations, and characteristics of those styles and the principles of design and elements of art that can be used in their description, will need to be illustrated/referenced as the student moves through the various timetable of changes that they will be selecting.
  • The final product for this project may consist of a PowerPoint presentation that displays and explains all of the changes that the student has selected, in addition to a final design that they create that suggests how the item selected will look in the future. Additionally, this futuristic conception will need to incorporate what specific needs the design of that item is meeting. In providing the justification for the design, the student will need to consider the following: technological changes (perceived or actual), environmental considerations, cultural identity, geographic concerns, cost/affordability, societal needs.
  • A journal will be created to show the research and exploration of material that was done as the investigative part of this project. An online, publishable, electronic journal utilizing the Art Collector feature in ArtsConnectEd is an optional format for the facilitation of this phase of the project.
  Note: After the research has been completed, the methodology and media that is employed in the creation of the final product for this lesson, in addition to the use of ArtsConnectEd for the creation of the journal, may utilize a different structure other than the use of an electronic format.  The standards that are then being met, however, may or may not then include the technology standard.      


Online Resources for Research: Additional Resources for Research:
  • Design Basics, David A. Lauer & Stephen Pentak, ISBN 0-534-62559-2
  • Shaping Space, Paul Zelanski & Mary Pat Fisher, ISBN 0-03-076546-5
  • Keys to Drawing with Imagination, Bert Dodson, ISBN-13: 978-1-58180-757-8
  • Form, Space and Vision, Graham Collier (Prentice Hall , N.J.,1963)
  • Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, Kleiner & Maniya (Ed.), ISBN 0-15-505090-7
  • Art History, Marilyn Stokstad, ISBN 0-13-145527-3
  • Frank Lloyd Wright – A Gatefold Portfolio, ISBN 0-7607-0463-5
  • Frank Lloyd Wright – A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick  (DVD)
  • Sketches of Frank Gehry – by Sydney Pollack (DVD)
  • Maya Linn – A Strong Clear Vision (DVD)
  Photoshop tutorials for both tool and effect application: ArtsConnectEd files for creating a publishable design project journal: Files for Art Collector function included:   PowerPoint tutorials: A Sample Design Timeline for consideration:
  • Beginning of Industrial Design: Great Britain and Germany 1820 - Industrial Revolution: early 19th century; emergence of patternmaker/designer 1849 - Journal of Design by Henry Cole; promoted the idea that design should encompass more than applied ornament; increased knowledge of manufacturing processes and materials. 1851 - Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London – promoted the decorative extravagance of Victorian design 1860 - Arts and Crafts Movement – included John Ruskin, William Morris, Gustav Stickley; machine production was degrading to both workers and consumers. 1903 - Wiener Werkstatle - a Viennese group that was similar to the Arts and Crafts Movement. 1901 - Frank Lloyd Wright published his influential book 'The Art and Craft of the Machine'; the book laid out the basic principles of modern industrial design; future designers create prototypes for machine production. 1907 - Deutscher Werkbund – founded by Hermann Muthesius 1910 - AEG (German General Electric); design consultant Peter Behrens; Art Nouveau renounced for a spare abstract neoclassicism; a focus on lighting fixtures, fans, advertising, graphics, and the firm's overall 'corporate image'. 1919 - The Bauhaus School founded by Walter Gropius, union of art and industry; other important Bauhaus figures: Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Laszio Moholy-Nagy, and Wilhelm Wagenfeld – (In 1933 the school was closed by the Nazi regime.)
  • Design Profession: USA 1929 - US consumer society emerges: commercial artists, advertising, illustrators 1940 - Design business practice common; the rise of independent consultants 1939 - New York World's Fair – promoted visual coherence and social harmony; the Utopian dream
  • Postwar Europe 1944 - Council of Industrial Design; stifled creativity 1947 – The rise of Swiss design: Armin Hofmann, Emil Ruder, Kunstgewerbeschule Basel 1953 - Bauhaus tradition to Hochschule für Gestaltung: Max Bill and Toma s Maldonado; Dieter Rams at Braun AG. 1960 - Pop art; Pentagram Design: Colin Forbes, Theo Crosby 1960 - Scandinavian designer: Alvar Aalto 1961 - Italian designer: Ettore Sottsass, Memphis group 1968 - Post-Modernism: Wolfgang Weingart, Steff Geissbuhler, Odermatt & Tissi
  • Contemporary American Graphic Design 1950 - MOMA, the promotion of good design; refugees Gropius, Mies, Breuer in America; New Bauhaus, Chicago, ID-IIT; Yale University: Alvin Eisenman, Paul Rand, Herbert Matter, Norman Ives 1960 - The New York School: Paul Rand, Alexey Brodovich, Henry Wolf, Herb Lubalin, George Lois 1970 - Corporate graphics: Olivetti, CBS, CIBA, IBM, Chase, Mobil, Mexico Olympic 1979 - New Wave: April Greiman, Kenneth Hiebert, Paula Scher 1980 - Creation of the first completed Microprocessor (1984 - Apple Computer, MacWrite, MacPaint) 1993 - Internet: Mosaic, Netscape


  • computer lab with internet access
  • Photoshop and PowerPoint software
  • DVD / VCR player and screen
  • LCD projection capability
  • hands-on drawing materials
  • scanner (optional)
  • color printer (optional)
  • photographic printer paper (optional)
  • CDs and CD burning capability (optional)


  • Principles of Design:  Certain qualities inherent in the choice and arrangement of elements of art in the production of a work of art. Artists "design" their works to varying degrees by controlling and ordering the elements of art.
  • Rhythm and movement:  The principle of design that refers to a regular repetition of elements of art to produce the look and feel of movement. It is often achieved through the careful placement of repeated components which invite the viewer's eye to jump rapidly or glide smoothly from one to the next.
  • Balance:  A principle of design that refers to the way the elements of art are arranged to create a feeling of stability in a work; a pleasing or harmonious arrangement or proportion of parts or areas in a design or composition. Portions of a composition can be described as taking on a measurable weight or dominance, and can then be arranged in such a way that they appear to be either in or out of balance, or to have one kind of balance or another. Balance can be symmetrical, or formal; or it can be asymmetrical, or informal. It can also be radial.
  • Proportion:  A principle of design that refers to the comparative, proper, or harmonious relationship of one part to another or to the whole with respect to size, quantity, or degree
  • Variety:  A principle of design that refers to a way of combining elements of art in involved ways to achieve intricate and complex relationships. Variety is often obtained through the use of diversity and change by artists who wish to increase the visual interest of their work. An artwork which makes use of many different hues, values, lines, textures, and shapes would reflect the artist's desire for variety. Unity is the principle which is its variety's opposite; but when there is too little variety, the result is monotony
  • Emphasis:  Any forcefulness that gives importance or dominance (weight) to some feature or features of an artwork; something singled out, stressed, or drawn attention to by means of contrast, anomaly, or counterpoint for aesthetic impact. A way of combining elements to stress the differences between those elements and to create one or more centers of interest in a work. Often, emphasized elements are used to direct and focus attention on the most important parts of a composition — its focal point
  • Harmony:  Agreement; accord. A union or blend of aesthetically compatible components. A composition is harmonious when the interrelationships between its parts fulfill aesthetic requisites or are mutually beneficial. As a principle of design, harmony refers to a way of combining elements of art to accent their similarities and bind the picture parts into a whole. It is often achieved through the use of repetition and simplicity.
  • Unity:  The quality of wholeness or oneness that is achieved through the effective use of the elements and principles of design. A composition is unified when the relationships between its parts interact to create a sense that no portion of the composition may be changed without altering the aesthetic integrity and meaning of the artwork.
  • Elements of Art:  The basic components used by the artist when producing works of art including line, shape, form, space, value, and texture.
  • Examples of Style: Modernism / Post Modernism; Arts and Crafts Movement; Rococo; Art Deco; Bauhaus; Pop; Classical; Art Nouveau.
  • Aesthetics: The branch of philosophy that deals with the nature and value of art objects and experiences. It is concerned with identifying the clues within works that can be used to understand, judge, and defend judgments about those works.
  • Advertisement:  A public announcement or notice announcing goods or services for sale
  • Illustration:  A design or picture in a book, magazine or other print or electronic medium that explains the text or shows what happens in a story
  • Critique:  A critical review or discussion
    Additional Terms for Consideration:
  • creative problem solving
  • culture
  • empathy
  • function
  • perspective
  • prototype
  • synthesis


Day 1: Presentation of Project 1.  Present the Project (1st bulleted Objective) 2.  Define what is meant by design. 3.  Discuss/demonstrate historical changes to design 4.  Discuss/brainstorm the different effects and forces that shape design 5.  Discuss/brainstorm different categories of items that display design change 6.  Have students select an item that they will be researching for their project 7.  Begin creation of journal for researching project – may use Art Collector in ArtsConnectEd in order to create a publishable, electronic journal. Day 2-3: Research and Exploration 1.  Once a subject has been decided upon, students need to identify at least 5 different periods to reference showing distinctive design changes in that subject over time. Consideration should be given to the sample time-line provided above in addition to more far-reaching spans of time based on the subject that they have selected. 2.  At some point during the early part of the project, students need to share what they are basing their research on and what characteristics / periods of time they are working with. A worksheet is provided in the lesson to help with the identification of design influences and effect. Day 4-5: Presentation Creation: PowerPoint or Other Format as Determined by Instructor 1.  Review/Instruct PowerPoint software functionality as needed. (PowerPoint information files as well as online links to tutorials are included in the lesson.)  Consider effective tips for displaying screens to best communicate project information: selection and placement of image, type size/color/placement, and background color.  Consider use of animation effects as communication devices for emphasis 2.  Hands-on media (2D/3D) may also be employed depending on course structure Day 6-7: Future Design Component 1.  Use of image for manipulation purposes from internet/scanned resources or creation of image for scanning into Photoshop for further work and inclusion in project as PowerPoint screen(s) 2.  Apply same criteria used to establish design factors in historical examples to future design Day 7-8: Finalization of Work & Presentation* 1.  Journal needs to be completed as part of finished project grade – if utilizing Art Collector format in ArtsConnectEd, the journal will need to be published. 2.  History of Design Framework worksheets to be completed and submitted. 3.  PowerPoint to be finished with all screens illustrating various design periods and object changes fully documented.  PowerPoint presentations will be shared by each student with the class. Time for comments/feedback will be built into presentations.** * presentations may continue beyond allotted time for assignment based on teacher discretion. ** presentations need not be in PowerPoint form as indicated in the Objective section – the instructor would then need to reconfigure the presentation process      


  • Individual discussion with students
  • Examination of work being done in journals during project
  • Student participation in preliminary group discussions and presentation sessions. Students will be critiquing each others' final presentations.
  • Rubric designed to assess both comprehensiveness and level of work completed.
  • Grade based on completion of all work and the demonstrated level of skill shown in rubric assessment

Enrichment Extension Activities

  • Display of final design portion of the projects could be printed and matted and hung in the school.
  • Invite a designer from a local resource to come and address the class as part of the project or after the fact to look at and comment on the work done.
  • Invite a designer to address the students regarding the opportunities for a career in design.
  • Field trip to a museum to view applicable show based on design.
  • Presentation of projects to School Board and/or local business group

Teacher Reflection


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