GDE710 W7 | Research Object


Growing up, coffee was a big part of my life. My Aunt Mary, my mom’s baby sister joined the Peace Corps out of college and was stationed in Colombia, South America. This is where she would meet and marry her husband and spend the rest of her life.

My Colombian family would visit the states almost every summer and we’d get to enjoy the rich coffee that they’d bring with them each trip. They’d explain to us that while Juan Valdez isn’t real, the coffee industry surely was a big part of Colombian culture, not only from an industrial and socio-economical standpoint, but from a social one. Coffee was what started and ended every day in my family. It brought people together in good times and those of sorrow.


So for this week’s challenge, I chose to pose a statement that coffee brings people together and choose the mighty coffee bean as my object to gather research around.

I looked to published works on the study of coffee and culture and learned that coffee was discovered in 800 AD in Ethiopia. As the story goes, a farmer noticed his goats were behaving a bit erratic and highly animated. He noticed that they were eating the fruits of what would be known as the coffee fruit. He took the fruit back to the village and shared with his friends. They used the coffee fruit as a drink to extend their energies as they prayed. (5)

Between 1865 and 1970, machines are made to make coffee: taste even better, become more popular in homes, dehydrated to keep soldiers warm on the front lines and be made in an instant. (5)

In Sweden, people partake in Fika, which is a cultural morning and afternoon coffee break that's seemingly more about socializing than drinking coffee. Gevalia coffee brand capitalized on its country’s social culture to advertise its special blends of coffee to the world. (2)

In 1971, coffee becomes a global phenomenon when the first of 17,000 Starbucks coffeehouses open. People gather often spending hours chatting, studying, and hatching the next big idea. The Starbucks generation rings in a new wave of coffee appreciation and social dynamics. People can project aspects of their identity based on how they take their coffee. (3,4)

By 2012, coffee becomes the 2nd most traded commodity in the world. (5)



I chose to illustrate my object so I could show the power of the coffee bean. I wanted to capture the ritual and the social component. The illustration uses a giant coffee bean as a monolith similar to a Stonehenge or Devil’s Tower (shown in the cult classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind). This was done with a 6B pencil.

For my layout, I wanted to create a piece that leveraged my illustration as well as all of the great imagery I’d sourced during my research. I connected the two pages together using the illustrations of people running towards the giant coffee bean. The headline typography chosen is Saturn V, a face designed by Lost Type and inspired by the monumental Saturn V rocket that carried men from the earth to the moon. This was my way to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, to unique shape of the coffee bean, and to be playful with the physiological aspects of coffee as rocket fuel. The body type is also a Lost Type face called Klinic Slab. I felt is as a nice complement to the curves of the Saturn V headline as well as how its description was so similar to how I see coffee, “Klinic is a workhorse that marries personality and functionality.”

The color palette was chosen to reflect the various hues of not only coffee but the various skin colors of people.

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[1] Birsen Yilmaz, Nilüfer Acar-tek and Saniye Sözlü. 2017. ‘Turkish Cultural Heritage: a Cup of Coffee’. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 213–20.
[2] Paulsrud, B. 2017. ‘You, Your Supervisor, and the Importance of Fika’. In Nordic Phd: Surviving And Succeeding. 103–10.
[3] Ruzich, Constance and Canan, Joanne. 2010. ‘Computers, Coffee Shops, and Classrooms: Promoting Partnerships and Fostering Authentic Discussion’.
[4] Squinkifer, Dietrich. 2017. ‘Conferences, Conventions, Conversations, and Coffee’. Camera Obscura (95),
[5] Whipps, Heather. “How Coffee Changed the World.” Livescience, Purch, 19 May 2008,

GDE710 W7 | Lecture Reflection: Research & Theory



Martin Hoskin teaches us that curiosity reinvigorates our relationship with research and our approach to knowledge. He challenges us to arrive at our own definition of research:

To gain knowledge through exploration and study of the unknown or of curiosity.

-Kris Miller


We’re asked to sketch a room and then evaluate it, study it to arrive at set of data that describes the space:

ETYMOLOGY: The study of words, their origin, and how their form and meaning have changed over time


How we categorize knowledge and how we reflect on that knowledge


  • Metaphysics: ultimate sense of reality. Man, God, nature of being, what’s it all about

  • Aesthetics: nature of beauty, perception, order, proportion

  • Ethics: how we should conduct ourselves, judgement, morality, individual vs. state

  • Epistemology: Engages the theory of knowledge itself. Methods validity, origin, scope, limits, justified belief vs. opinion


METHODOLOGY: Research the overall approach to studies. A body of shared procedures by those who work in a particular discipline. What genre of knowledge are you using to underpin your inquiry or approach?

METHOD: Process used for the collection of data for the purpose of analysis. The way you’re going to do what you’re going to do.


  • Language

  • Discourse

  • Interviews

  • Fluid


  • Numbers

  • Facts about phenomena

  • Surveys

  • Recordings

  • Observations

  • Formulaic

  • Systematic


  1. Minimize unintended harm

  2. Obtain informed consent

  3. Protect anonymity and confidentiality

  4. Avoid deceptive practices

  5. Providing the right to withdraw


  • Primary sources: first-hand evidence, legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, creative writing, speeches, recordings, and art objects

  • Secondary sources: scholarly books, articles, magazines, reports, encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, documentaries, and newspapers


  • Formal: direct description of what an individual has done and how they’ve done it, a description

  • Contextual: wider context, item fits into or impacts the world around it. When, why, for whom.


  1. Relevant: must be of academic and intellectual interest, arises from issues raises in literature or practices

  2. Manageable: must be able to access your sources of data, objects, people, documents, give a full and nuanced answer to your question

  3. Substantial and original: must showcase imaginative abilities, no matter how far it may be couched in literature

  4. Fit for assessment: must be open for assessment

  5. Clear and simple

  6. Interesting: not too convenient


  • Currency: up to date, out of date, does it matter?

  • Relevance: does it relate well to research area?

  • Authority: who is the author or source?Are they credible?

  • Accuracy: is it reliable? Truthful? Correct?

  • Purpose: What is the reason it exists? Who is it aimed at?


Laurel, B. (Ed) (2003) Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Collins, H. (2010) Creative Research; The Theory & Practice of Research for the Creative Industries. Lausanne: AVA Publishing.

Bestley, R. Noble, I. (2016) Visual Research: An Introduction to Research Methods in Graphic Design. London: Bloomsbury.