Icograda: The International Council of Graphic Design Associations, 1963-2013
: Transnational Interactions and Professional Networks in Graphic Design

  • Dora Souza Dias

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The rise of graphic design as an independent field of professional practice in the early twentieth century led to the creation of a number of professional associations that aimed to gather practitioners, establish networks and promote the value of graphic design within society. After the end of the Second World War, the rise of transnational communications and trade agreements created opportunities for the formation of transnational governmental and non governmental organisations, among which were those dedicated to design. Looking at the foundation in 1963 of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations, known as Icograda, and its subsequent development, this thesis presents a historical account of the diverse developments in the graphic design profession in a global context.

This thesis argues that, as an organisation born from Western European efforts, Icograda originally had a limited understanding of graphic design practice and intended to implement a particular set of standards for professional practice. However, when faced with the diversity of graphic design practice in other regions of the world in the 1980s, the Council adapted its discourse and activities in order to embrace diversity. Nevertheless, amongst some of the Council's members, a perception that the graphic design practised in 'underdeveloped' countries had an inferior status lingered throughout the twentieth century. This thesis challenges Western-Eurocentric perspectives on graphic design histories, arguing that assumptions about the emulation of foreign styles depicted in histories of graphic design in 'Third World' countries are flawed, as they disregard the complex social contexts in which graphic design practice was embedded in the 'periphery' of the design world. In order to look more closely into the social contexts of transnational interactions within the Council, this thesis looks more closely into interactions established between Icograda and Latin American designers.

Informed mainly by research undertaken in the Icograda Archive, held at the University of Brighton Design Archives, this thesis contributes to the field of graphic design history by offering a postcolonial perspective on the activities of the Council. Debating the unacknowledged social hierarchies of the design world, it questions how they have affected transnational interactions and professional networks in the world of professional graphic design.
Date of AwardSept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorJeremy Aynsley (Supervisor), Catherine Moriarty (Supervisor) & Megha Rajguru (Supervisor)

Cite this