Call for Papers: Design as Semiosis (Punctum. International Journal of Semiotics)

Call for Papers: Design as Semiosis
Special issue of Punctum. International Journal of Semiotics
Editors: Miltos Frangopoulos and Evripides Zantides

Ever since Roland Barthes, back in the mid-1950s, commented on the ideological myths infusing the design of the new Citroen DS or of the cover of Paris Match, the fates of design and semiotics have been inextricably entwined. From ‘les trente glorieuses’ of expanding mass production and mass consumption, however, to the current trend for customization, sustainable design, collaborative and participatory design, parametric design combined with 3D printing, we discern a reorientation from a use-centred, scientific design to a user-centered design driven by post-materialism and intuitive ‘design thinking’.
At the same time, semioticians moved from unraveling the mystifying effects of design upon a beguiled mass-consumer to championing a more expanded understanding of design as a fundamental dimension of the human activity of meaning-making, world-making and identity-making.

This shift of semiotic emphasis from ideological critique to an encompassing, anthropological concept of design may be seen as a reflection of a society that becomes all the more design-centred and ‘design conscious’, with the ceaseless invention of new media, artifacts, environments and man-machine interfaces constantly opening up novel fields for design activity; an activity, moreover, which has widely adopted semiotics in order to develop more meaningful and effective designs, as well as its self-reflexivity as semiotic work. This special issue of Punctum aims to explore the shifts and turns marking the decades-long relationship between semiotics and design, and to foreground the role and significance of semiotics in the contemporary transdisciplinary engagement with and research in design. Is it possible, finally, to sustain the critical project of semiotics, beyond both the wholesale reduction of the artifact to a fetish or an ideologeme, and the abstract notion of design as semiotic work underlying all human activity?

We welcome contributions that address one or more of the above concerns, while drawing their research material from any particular area(s) of contemporary design: graphics, typography, architecture, interiors, furniture, fashion/textiles, packaging, industrial/product design, jewelry/ornament, car design, sound design, digital/web/multimedia design, advertising, branding, political propaganda, social design etc.

Prospective authors should submit an abstract of approximately 300 words by mail to Miltos Frangopoulos ( and Evripides Zantides (, including their affiliation and contact information. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication, given that all research articles will be put through the journal’s peer review process.

Read the full announcement here: PUNCTUM Vol4_Iss1_DESIGN AS SEMIOSIS