Design and Communication

Teaching staff

Mònica Mestanza

Mònica Mestanza

Graduated in Publicity and PR from the UAB. 

Graduated in Publicity and PR from the UAB. Graphic designer. Mònica furthered her studies at Columbia University and the Visual School of Arts in NY. PhD in Typography from the UB. She has professional experience working for graphic design studios (Zoptic, Mesa de Diseño y Suma) and advertising agencies (Grey Advertising Inc. and Atrium Sponsoring) in both Barcelona and NY. Since 1997 she has owned and worked as the Art Director at mm!, a graphic design and visual communication studio that develops projects on corporate visual identity, editorial design, graphics in spaces, audiovisual and web design as well as communication campaigns. Since 1997, she has combined running the studio with teaching Graphic Design and Art Direction.

Fact sheet

Formal qualifications: Bachelor's Degree in Design

Credits: 6

Course: Fourth

Typology: Elective Graphic Design

Code subject: GDVG24


Design and Communication I is an optional course within the subject of Graphic Design and Visual Communication. This course explores the theoretical framework and the practical, analytic and critical applications of contemporary visual design. It invites the student to think about the theory of the image and about social communication. It explores the relationship between graphic design and visual studies, where design creates meanings and values and can be studied and criticised.

This course also goes in depth into the latest theoretical and research currents within the design field, including design schools of thought, cognition, social and activism design or user-generated design. The goal of this course is to reach a good competence on design analysis and criticism, and for this it presents a series of analytical methodologies, paying special attention to data review and other methods of graphic analysis and criticism. The course studies and puts to practice design criticism, understanding it as a written activity through a great number of forms and genres.

It also understands criticism as a practice (critical design), where the project activity and the finished project itself are a source of knowledge. The pedagogic methodology of this course is distinguished by the historical and theoretical references, case studies and a good balance between theory and practice. The following detailed objectives are focused on providing the designer with critical thinking about the latest theories and analysis techniques.

  • 1.1 Knowledge, capacity for debate and formation of opinions concerning the latest theoretical and conceptual currents in contemporary visual design.
  • 1.2 Capacity to analyse design assignments and projects, both their own and those of others, through oral, textual and visual tools and methods.
  • 1.3 Critical judgement and attitude in the face of examples of visual culture (including their own), critical writing and capacity for creating critical design projects.
  • 1.4 Research methodology and the acquisition of knowledge in line with the professional practice of visual and graphic design.



The course is developed through a series of modules that will be exposed both consequently and simultaneously.

1- Latest theoretical currents and the design school of thought.

  • 1- Introduction: Design and criticism. Latest theoretical currents.
  • 2.1- The design school of thought.
  • 2.2- Creativity and innovation theories.
  • 3.1- How does design communicate? Design and rhetoric. Design and cognition.

2- Diagram and visual analysis

  • 4.1- Visual analysis and other cultural disciplines. Visual language techniques
  • 4.2- Modern models: Drawing and construction in Bauhaus and Ülm. The Gestalt
  • 5- Concept networks, analytic cartographies and infography
  • 6.1- Complexity visualisation. Exclusion and visualisation of exceptions
  • 6.2- Subject and subjectivity as analytic channels

3- Design criticism and critical design

  • 7.1- Crisis design criticism. Critical design
  • 7.2- Case study: typography
  • 8.1- The critical tradition and its political and social sense: between freedom and censorship
  • 8.2- Paradigms, turns and revolutions: the Kuhn theories
  • 9.1- Critical currents: community design and user generated contents
  • 9.2 - Critical currents: minority and marginal discourses
  • 10- Graphic activism and public space: Situationism, social and political graffiti and the autonomous temporary zones
  • 11.1- Critical currents: critical work and extreme design
  • 11.2- Critical currents: the punk case
  • 12- Feminism and gender issues in visual design
  • 13.1- Critical currents: videogames and critics
  • 13.2- Critical currents: Appropriation, cultural open source and piracy
  • 14- Oral presentations of critical intervention projects in the space
  • 15- Exam and final corrections



  • Knowledge of present visual design currents, both theoretical and practical, and understanding of their values and essences.
  • Understanding the designer’s position as a cultural agent and the relation between visual design and other related fields.
  • Possession of a critical sense when developing personal projects.
  • Capacity for writing in different formats with proficient language about visual communication examples related to graphic design.
  • Correct general usage of ICT, especially of the technologies needed in the professional design sector.



  • SS10. Effective contribution to cooperation and collaboration structures for the development of action plans with the capacity to adapt to the varied working methods of different creative teams.
  • SS11. Efficiently planning and organising the personal or team work processes of a design project, structuring and prioritising its phases, tasks and responsibilities and, subsequently, evaluating the results obtained according to the previous challenges.



  • Observation of participation
  • Monitoring of the work produced
  • Specific tests: exams
  • Realisation of works or projects