... the emergence of a hieroglyphics of communication, which overlays the contemporary experience of cities, buildings, products, and media with a code of repeatable, reduced icons, compacted chunks of information which collapse a verbal message into a visual mark. The expanding domain of this hieroglyphic speech poses subtle problems for designers in the next millennium: How can we create cross-cultural communication without flattening difference beneath the homogenizing force of a single dialect?
Perhaps these dubious achievements are what makes graphic design the black sheep of the design family. Graphic design lacks the spatial drama or presence or architecture and product design. Architectural criticism often contrasts the plenitude of architectural form with the one-dimensionality of “sign,” “communication,” “illustration,” “anecdote,” and “information”—the very modes of expression that graphic design traffics in.
Like an over-eager, pimply-faced younger sibling, graphic design is what architecture never wants to be: namely, packaging, ornament, frame, and sign. Architecture says, “Experience, Space, Tactility, Drama, Eternity”…while graphic design says, “Can I help you? Do I look okay? Buy me, read me, eat me, drink me!”
— Ellen Lupton, Critical Wayfinding (1993)