Foundations of Design Research

After months of hard work, we are very excited to announce the publication of Foundations of Design Research on The course content was written and developed by Andy and his friend and colleague Peni Acayo. We are thrilled with the experience and results and excited to share our expertise with the world.

The course description:

With design research, designs are more meaningful and effective because they are grounded in a real-world context. The goal of this course is to introduce the process of design research and to help designers understand how critical it is to being able to develop great designs. Authors Peni Acayo and Andy Schwanbeck walk you through the various types of research (primary vs. secondary, quantitative vs. qualitative, etc.) so that you get a sense of which are appropriate for the job at hand. They also introduce research tools, planning considerations, and frameworks for presenting your results, such as personas and infographics. Plus, find out how research can directly inform your designs, using generative research, user testing, and rapid prototyping.

Topics include:

  • Using research to add value and credibility to design work
  • Understanding the different types of research
  • Choosing research tools
  • Creating a research plan
  • Presenting research
  • Using research to begin the design process

“Behind the Platen” Letterpress Exhibition

Our letterpress studio, Big Press Little Press, organized and co-sponsored an exhibition celebrating the legacy of letterpress printing. The exhibit demonstrates how the medium is being explored and utilized in our contemporary design culture.

The exhibition showcases the range of letterpress work done by shops and individuals in the Western Pennsylvania/Eastern Ohio area. Along with the exhibited work, it also educates on the history of the medium through development of current day trends. This body of work shares the passion of those continuing the legacy of letterpress printing.

The exhibit opened on Wednesday, September 10 with a lecture by Bob Kelemen, an accomplished printer and educator whose letterpress work has been recognized in regional and national competitions. He spoke on the use of letterpress as a tactile learning tool for design and put into context how letterpress is being explored in our art and design culture. The exhibit was open from September 10 – 28, at the Cantellops Art Gallery, La Roche College, Pittsburgh. The lecture and exhibit for this location were sponsored in partnership by AIGA Pittsburgh and the La Roche College Design Division.

The second location for the exhibition was hosted by the University of Akron Myers School of Art, and opened on Friday, October 3rd with a lecture by Andy and Miranda of Big Press Little Press, who spoke on the feasibility of starting a letterpress studio and on how letterpress connects to and enhances design skills. The exhibit was open from October 3 – 9 in the  Myers School of Art Atrium Gallery. The lecture and exhibit for this location were sponsored in partnership by AAF-Akron and the Student Design Society.

We are currently seeking additional venues to host the exhibit in the Pittsburgh and Cleveland areas. Please get in touch with us if you have suggestions for schools or galleries who might be interested in working together.


NSU Flight Deck Graphics Installed

We just completed these graphics for the ‘Flight Deck,’ a bar/lounge space at Nova Southeastern University. The install  included two large format graphics and fabric-wrapped wall panels. The graphics tell the story of the development of the campus being built over what was once an airfield, including the maps, aerial views and historical images of Forman Field. We were pleased with the end result!