NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

Member of International Council of Design ico-D

English | فارسی

Neshan 45


From Art to Design; The History Of Education Of Graphic Design In Iran

Meraj Ghanbari

Before the establishment of official centers, teaching the arts in Iran was based on the mentoring/master-student principle and traditional approaches. This article aims to introduce and review five important and effective educational centers that have greatly contributed to establishing art and graphic design teaching in Iran over the past two centuries.

Dar Ul-Fonun School
This school was founded by Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir (in the Naser al-Din Shah period) for teaching new sciences and techniques on Naser Khosrow Street in Tehran in 1851. Dar ul-Fonun was initially a military, engineering, and medical school; later other courses such as English and Russian, music, and painting were added to the curriculum. The first teachers of this school were Austrian; then teachers from France, Germany, and Italy were employed.

Monsieur Constant (French painter), Gachet Repello, and Mozayen al-Dawla (the painter of Naseri period) were the painting teachers of this school. Before teaching at Dar ul-Fonun, Mozayen al-Dawla went to Paris to learn painting. Kamal-ol-Molk was his most talented student. The teaching methods in Dar ul-Fonun were derived from Western ones. This school can be considered the origin of the first painting training. Interestingly, the Dar ul-Fonun Stone Printing was also initiated at the same time as the establishment, and textbooks were printed and bound at this school. At the end of the Qajar period, the people interest in this school faded and gradually went into decline.

Naseri Majma Ol-Sanaye
Dar ol-Sanaye (Polytechnic School) was established in 1852 in a large building at the end of the Tobacco-Sellers market in Tehran, although its activities were stopped later due to the political and social developments. However, this center resumed the second period of its operation in 1879 in another location. There is no precise information about its founder. A number of sources and individuals, including E’temad os-Saltaneh, have suggested in the Vaghaye-e Ettefaghyeh newspaper that this place was established by Hussein Ali Khan Muir ul-Mamalek and by the order of Naser al-Din Shah. This large building had many different chambers and a group of artists and craftsmen were working and meeting the needs of the courtiers, noblesse, and the people. “One of the big chambers of this large building was the chamber of painters, where Abul Hassan Khan Naghash-Bashi and his thirty-four students were working in miniature.” Along with the Dar ul-Fonun School, which focused on teaching medical and basic sciences, Majma ol-Sanaye was founded to promote some new disciplines like Painting, Bookbinding, and Illuminated manuscript. The emergence of the manuscript and illustrated version of One Thousand and One Nights was the most important work of Sani ol-Molk and his students in this school. The training and activities of Sani ol-Molk and his students can be considered as the first event of graphics collective education in Iran. An announcement on page 6 of No. 520 in the Dowlat Elieh Iran newspaper on May 7th, 1862, described the general atmosphere of Majma ol-Sanaye as follows: “From this date onwards, everyone who tends to take his/her child to the painting school, the public painting school is open and Sani ol-Molk will himself teach the students on Saturdays. On the other days, students in the same painting room will drill and learn this industry based on the works of the teacher, as well as the faces and woodcuts from the West and so on”. The author failed to obtain accurate information in available resources about the sequel and the end of this school.

Kamal-Ol-Molk Art School
Kamal-Ol-Molk Art School (Sanaye-E Mostazrafeh School), the third art education center in Iran, was founded in 1916 under the supervision of Mohammad Ghaffari (Kamal-ol-Molk) in a building designed by himself on the lands of Negarestan Garden in Tehran. By returning to Iran after a three-year journey and understanding the artwork of Europe, Kamal-ol-Molk founded this school to educate artists. Each year, 40 students studied in two disciplines of painting and sculpture. This school integrated the traditional master-student style and the European academies method. The basic and advanced training courses were four and six years, respectively, and graduates received a certificate from Kamal ol-Molk. After dismissing Kamal-ol-Molk and appointing Ismail Ashtiani, “Kamal-ol-Molk Art School” was renamed to “The High School of Sanaye-e Mostazrafeh” in 1928. At that time, the fine arts, framing, perspective, and anatomy were taught in the high school. The most prominent students of this high school were Ali Akbar Sanati, Mahmoud Oliya, Ali Mohammad Heidarian, Abolhassan Sedighi, Reza Shahabi, and Marcos Grigorian. This school was finally closed due to mismanagement in 1930.

Decorative Arts School (Art University)
This school was founded in 1960 with the efforts of Hooshang Kazemi and the agreement of the former Minister of Culture, Mehrdad Pahlbod. Kazemi graduated from École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris, in 1956 and received Master’s Degree in the field of Graphic Design. He was the first Iranian graduated student in Graphic Design. In 1959, he returned to Iran and established the Art Deco training structures at the faculty. The purpose of establishing this faculty was to set up the graphic design discipline, which was initially taught under the name of “Printed and Fine Arts”, along with the fields of decorative painting, sculpture, and textile design. The first group of faculty masters was formed by French and Iranian teachers, among them were Ivan Girard, Alan Boyce, Madame Jouber, Hossein Kazemi, Mohsen Vaziri Moghddam, and Lilith Terian.
“In the entrance exam, students did not have the option of selecting courses and spent three years in the general course in groups of about fifteen. The end of each week was the judging session of each workshop where two or three professors evaluated and scored works in consultation with each other. At the end of the third year, if the student successfully completed his courses, he could select a major and pass the specialized course in only one year. Indeed, the result was very favorable because the student would get well acquainted with the fundamentals of art in the first three years and would be introduced to a special art specialty in the fourth year.” The first group of the students of this faculty in the field of painting was Mansoor Ghandriz, Faramarz Pilaram, Behzad Golpayegani, Sadegh Tabrizi, Massoud Arabshahi, Naser Ovissi, Parviz Tanavoli, Zhaze Tabatabai, and others. Mohammad Pouladi was the first student in graphic design from the faculty, who was graduated in 1965. “In 1976, a graphic design master course was set up at this faculty and few students were accepted through the entrance exam. Hooshang Kazemi, Morteza Momayez, Aydin Aghdashloo, Ebrahim Ahrari, Iraj Anvari, Shahla Habibi, Mahmoud Gorjestani, and Qassim Kianmehr cooperated to teach the lessons of this course. Two years after the beginning of the course, the qualified students of this course were gradually awarded a master degree by presenting a final thesis.” The name of the “Writing and Printing Arts” was changed to “Visual Communication” in 1983. Following the Cultural Revolution (1980–1983), the name of this faculty was changed to “Arts Complex”, and then, to “University of Art,” which is active up to now.

Faculty Of Fine Arts, University Of Tehran
Tehran University was founded in 1934. The Faculty of Fine Arts is one of the faculties of this university, which was set up in October 1940, with the influences of the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris, called “Honarkadeh” (The Place for Art), and renamed to “The Faculty of Fine Arts” in 1949. Painting, architecture, and sculpture were among the first courses in this faculty in the educational subcategory of visual arts. The first academic year (1941-1945) introduced three graduate students in the field of painting: Jalil Ziapour, Hossein Kazemi, and Javad Hamidi; followed by Parviz Kalantari, Sadegh Barirani and others in subsequent courses. “The curriculum designing and development for architectural courses and painting and sculpture courses were performed by Doborl and Sedighi, respectively, based on the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris.” Before the establishment of the graphic design field, the specialized courses of which were taught in these three disciplines. Figures such as Morteza Momayez, Ghobad Shiva, Abbas Kiarostami, Aydin Aghdashloo, Mohammad Ehsaei, Farshid Mesghali, Ali Akbar Sadeghi, Khosrow Bayat, Nikzad Nojoumi, and others were trained and graduated from the faculty in the field of painting under the supervision of masters such as Mahmoud Javadipour, Ali Azargin, Ali Mohammad Heydarian, Hooshang Seyhoun, Karl Schlamminger, Behjat Sadr, Martin Ashoob Aminfar, Mohsen Moghadam and the like.
The process of establishing the graphic design department (visual communication) began in 1969, although it took until 1976 to stabilize its position. Morteza Momayez continued his education at the Arts Deco in Paris, and upon returning to Iran, he aimed to implement the Arts Deco educational method at the Faculty of Fine Arts. However, the initial efforts of Morteza Momzyez, who had just joined the faculty member, faced disagreements and later, efforts continued with the addition of individuals such as Sima Koban and Jalal Shabahanghi to the faculty.
“Finally, with the endeavor of the above-mentioned teachers, the establishment of the graphic design department was approved at the same time with the field of industrial design. Meanwhile, new teachers such as Mohammad Hossein Halimi, Hadi Shafaieh (photography), Hossein Ganjineh (hand-printing), and Hossein Sasan (Engraving) started their effective educational collaboration with the field of graphic design.” Teaching graphic design has been ongoing for 42 years and is now active in two undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Those who were named in the investigation of “Faculty of Decorative Arts” and “Faculty of Fine Arts,” had studied painting and did not pass the principles and fundamentals of the graphic design discipline. These individuals became masters in this field many years after the establishment of the graphic design field. Their lessons learned were the basics of art and painting and they transferred their knowledge to the new students of graphic design. From the 1960s to the present day, teaching graphic design at these two universities has varied in terms of content. In other words, the history of education of graphic design in Iran has undergone many changes over the last 40 years. The increase in the number of universities, which accept students in this field, has increased the number of students. However, the imperfect system of training has also affected graphic design arts and the decline in quality is evident from both theoretical and practical aspects during recent years. The quality is disregard by overemphasizing the quantity.

To Be Or Not To Be

Majid Abbasi

> more

Adjuster, Cop, Or Ignorant Schoolmaster

Pouya Ahmadi

> more

Learning From Valence: On Teaching Through Common Interest

Nina Paim/ Corinne Gisel

> more

Iranian Contemporary Design

Bahman Eslami; Practice Makes Perfect

Amir Mehdi Moslehi

> more

Design Today-I

And You, What Are You Teaching In Your Classes?

Alex Dujet

> more

Design Today-II

Involved Design

Roosje Klap

> more

Face to Face

There’s No Boundary; Face To Face With Neville Brody

Mitra Shahsavand

> more


Some Approaches To Non-Latin Type-Design Education

Fiona Ross

> more


The Alliance And The Student

Sarah Snaith

> more


Strike & Riot

Chris Lee

> more