Week 1 Discussion – What Goes Around Comes Around

Learning Objectives Covered

  • LO 02.03 – Discuss the ways past design historic eras influence contemporary design trends

Career Relevancy

In this discussion, we will examine the ways past design historic eras influence contemporary design trends. This is relevant to your career as a professional designer for the following three reasons:

  1. Engaging with design history and seeing what has withstood the test of time will help you understand how you can arrange design elements in your own work as a designer.
  2. Looking at various pieces from the past will help you build your own visual vocabulary (how visuals can be used to create meaning and emotion) for client work.
  3. Learning about how past designers have solved design problems will help inspire you when you are doing client work because most problems you will encounter are probably something a designer in the past has also had to work through.



There is an old saying that what goes around comes around and also another saying, there is nothing new under the sun. Both of these sayings hint at the idea that styles, trends, and fads might feel new or fresh at the time but with a little poking around, there is a good chance they are a lot like a style, trend, or fad that has happened in the past.

The idea that elements from the past repeat themselves in the present day is also true of graphic design. When solving a visual problem today, many designers will first look to past eras of graphic design to be inspired by visuals, color scheme, layout, and imagery. Because there tend to also be many design challenges we face today that others have faced in the past, looking to the past also carries with it the benefit of seeing how past solutions worked in a given visual design situation. In this way, as a professional working designer, it is vital that you have some knowledge of graphic design history so that you can learn from and be inspired by the designers who have come before you.

For example, if you are working with clients who has stated that their company values handmade products with an organic, natural feel, these keywords might remind you of the Arts and Crafts or Art Nouveau eras in design history. The design process always begins with both client research and visual research so your visual research starting point might be to look at images from these past eras. Looking at these images could help you learn how designers in the past created organic shapes, integrated plant images with text placement, or even used color to again convey a natural feel. Then, putting your own spin or twist on how the elements have been used (such as combining them with some contemporary images or a contemporary typeface) will make it feel fresh. Performing this research and being conscious of these connections will help you better explain your work to clients because referencing a past era also is a way to ground your work in the larger design story.


In this discussion, imagine that you have been hired by a band to produce a series of posters promoting their upcoming concert tour. The band’s music and concert atmosphere are inspired by 1960’s punk (Links to an external site.).

  • As you begin thinking about possible poster ideas, where might you first look for inspiration?
  • Why would you choose to look in these places?
  • How might the past influence the present through text styles, colors, layout, etc.?
  • Why would it also be important to put a fresh, contemporary twist on the posters?
  • How would you explain your design choices and research thinking to your client?

For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of how the past influences the present in graphic design. You can also find articles from experts that suggest how to create a piece that is inspired by a past style of design yet remains fully contemporary.

Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.

Reply Requirements

Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit 1 main post of 150+ words, 1 citation, and reference, as well as 2 follow-up posts of 50+ words. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).

Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professional—write like it.

Click here for info on the Institution Writing Guidelines (IWG) if you have questions.


Task Benchmark Examples

The files below are PDFs showing A-level work by fellow students. The examples are provided to illustrate the quality of work needed to get an A on this task. Copying from the samples is considered cheating. Use the examples to inform your plan to create your own work. Look at the pieces of writing quality, use of citations, weaving outside sources and the author’s position together, ability to meet the goals of the task and cohesion.