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As Design Director of MIT Press, professor in the School of Architecture, and co-founder with Ron MacNeil of the Visible Language Workshop, Muriel Cooper spent a career interrogating the methods and means of graphic design, carving out a series of spaces within MIT where fluid relationships between design, production, teaching, learning, making, reproducing and distributing were explored on a daily basis for twenty years.

Collaborative poster produced for Messages and Means, a class at MIT School of Architecture, co-taught by Ron MacNeil and Muriel Cooper.

PLAN, MIT School of Architecture and Planning, 1980

1. It would make use of the tools, processes and technologies of graphic arts media as directly as possible and the tools would be integrated with concept and product. Many of these are in the workshop. […]

2. The author would be the maker contrary to the specialization mode which makes the author of the content the author, the author of the form the designer, and the author of the craft the typographer / printer.

3. Visual and verbal representation of ideas would be synthesized rather than separate.

4. Time would remain as fluid and immediate as possible, leaving room for feedback and change.

July 15, 1980

Students in the Visible Language Workshop, around 1976

David Reinfurt wrote an essay in 2007 about Muriel Cooper and the Visible Language Workshop’s legacy at MIT.