Semiology & Design

I need you to do me a favour today, more specifically, watch a film. One of those romcoms that are shown in cinemas every year but their plot is always the same. Hopefully, you will manage to finish the film and get to the credits, otherwise just fast-forward until you reach them, because this is the most important part. (For the point I’m trying to make anyways.) Most of the names you’ll see there will be male. Male actors filmed by male camera men starring in a film directed by male directors. Maybe, quite possibly, I am bitter but it’s 2016 and I still remember how I felt when Mad Max: Fury Road was published last year and everyone said what a great job Margaret Sixel did at editing. What a surprise, a woman doing a good job.

This is why I chose to do a poster on The Male Gazea feminist concept by Laura Mulvey from the mid-70s. It criticises the way media is focused around men and is split into three perspectives:

  1. The person behind the camera, e.g. camera men
  2. The person in front of the camera, e.g. actors
  3. The person watching the final product, e.g. spectators

Of course, women did watch TV and went to the cinema but the point of the theory is that they were not considered a relevant demographic. Without further ado, here is my poster:


Furthermore, there is also a music video made by Benny which heavily criticises gender roles and equality (or rather the lack of it). I know this is not exactly relevant for Semiology and Design but it is a really cool video.

Now, what exactly is semiology? (I sure am glad you’re asking.) It is the study of sign process, of how meaning is constructed and understood, and the study of the image itself. Basically, how to use and interpret signs. It is important for designers to understand semiology because it helps to understand not only the signs and their meanings but also the people who interpret them.

This is closely related to linguistic,  which is the study of language and divided into multiple subfields, like semantic (meanings) and lingual (expressivity). It focuses on the human communication via speech and questions the nature of language. For example, how did language happen and how can children learn it so quickly?

There are numerous things which define the meanings of signs, in the workshop we focused on linguistic signs (the concept of sound-image), social semiotics (the study of social meaning) and trends (status symbols which have an impact on social environment).

Same as everything else we covered so far, signs have subdivisions, too.

  • Symbols, which stand in place of an object
  • Indexes, which indicate something
  • Icons, which represent an object that produces a mental image of that object

Here are some examples:




(If I remember correctly, kinetic typography is one example for linguistic signs, and I found this song when I worked on the typography post but I already had too many videos in there so I’m glad I can use it this week. I also called it “typography animation” so thank you for telling me the actual name so I sound a little less stupid.)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s