Dietmar R. Winkler, born in Germany, educated in design at Kunstschule Alsterdamm in Hamburg, is a Professor of Design at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Previously he held the endowed Hall Chair at the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, where he directed the Center for Form, Image and Text.Since 1960, he has been combining professional design practice with teaching of design and communication subjects.His interdisciplinary interests are to expand traditional visual and form literacy to include user-based design in behavioral, social, and cultural contexts.
For approximately twenty years, he was a faculty member of the Visual Design Department and an adjunct faculty member for eight years in the Cognitive Science Program of the Psychology Department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
He has taught or lectured at East Carolina University, Institute of Design in Chicago, Kansas City Art Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Media Laboratory), and the Universities of Alberta at Edmonton in Canada, Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and DeKalb, Nebraska at Lincoln, New Hampshire at Durham, Washington at Seattle, among others.He is a member of the editorial board of advisors to Visible Language Journal.He writes on design education issues and his articles have appeared in publications of AIGA, ICOGRADA, and Visible Language Journal.
In the field of design practice, he has worked as type and design director for Brandeis University, Harvard Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, as well as the WGBH Educational Foundation.His design work has been awarded, exhibited, and published by the Art Directors Clubs of Boston, New York, and St. Louis, the Type Directors Club of New York, the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
“Presently design lives in an environment of very rigid conventions, mirrored in a bottom-line barter system, in which budgets are translated into and measured against concepts of adequacy, time efficiency and expediency and expectations of what the market will bear, not maximal fidelity. This does not encourage additional search for highest standards or potentials. It can be argued that reinforcement of conventions easily satisfies and can lead to intellectual rigidity, making it more difficult to adjust to more dynamic situations and times. Also one forgets that the environment of rigid conventions creates serious dependencies. In the case of the design profession, if design practice does not demand greater sophistication and intelligence from the institutions that train and supply the major design workforce, then design can’t grow; and vice versa, if design educators cannot model the benefits of intellect over craft, then design practice will be delegated to a support and not a leadership position.” —Dietmar Winkler