CFP: Punctum 4(1), Design as Semiosis

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, worldmaking
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.

Deadline for abstracts: December 15, 2017
Notification of acceptance of the abstract: December 31, 2017
Deadline for submission of full papers: April 30, 2018
Reviewers’ report: June 15, 2018
Final revised papers due: July 15, 2018
Publication: Volume 4, Number 1 (July 2018)

Punctum ( is a blind peer-reviewed, on-line journal dedicated to the semiotic study of contemporary cultural texts, practices and processes, published under the auspices of the Hellenic Semiotic Society. Aspiring to provide a venue for the advancement of international semiotic scholarship, the journal is published twice a year (July & December) in English, although submissions in French and German will be accepted as well. Punctum’s Editorial Board reflects both its international scope and the diversity of contemporary semiotic research and theory. Punctum invites submissions (original papers, review articles, book reviews) across this wide range of semiotic fields and methodologies on an on-going basis, and regularly puts out calls for special issues with guest editors.

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