When designer Michie Cao was studying architecture history at UCLA, she found that the best way to memorize pertinent information about buildings was to use flashcards. Now, as a School of Visual Arts graduate student, Cao is making her architectural flashcards accessible to all with Archigrams, “prints of modern architecture icons that inspire.”
Archigrams is a set of print collectibles illustrating well-known modern architecture and highlighting relevant information about each building, such as architect name, architect quote about the building, date built, and a description of the structure’s significance. Cao, who launched a Kickstarter campaign to offset printing costs, intends Archigrams for use by “both architecture people and non-architecture people.”
Pledging $30 or more on the Kickstarter campaign will get you one full 5x7 print set which consists of 10 printed designs, including the Eames House by Ray and Charles Eames, Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, Glass House by Philip Johnson, and 30 St. Mary Axe by Norman Foster. The set also includes a glossary page of related term definitions and visuals for reference while reading through the prints.
“When I’m creating these illustrations for a graphic design class and my non-architecture classmates are asking me all about them—specifically, what those buildings are, who built them, and why they’re so special—it really hit me that there could be an opportunity to share the architectural stuff I’ve learned from undergrad and to do it in an easy, visual way. That’s how Archigrams was born,” says Cao in an email. “Though it now looks and feels nothing like a flashcard (a conscious decision on my part, after talking to so many friends who saw flashcards as a torturous learning device) the essence of it is still there.”
In the future, Cao says she is considering expanding Archigrams to include different sets and themes, as some have suggested the idea of creating a set specifically for London architecture.
Although Cao did not initially envision Archigrams becoming a card-collecting game, “while asking friends for feedback on my project, I’ve since realized that the idea of collecting prints of favorite buildings is a big hit among architects and architecture fans. Though I don’t want to prescribe any ‘right’ use for Archigrams, I do think it would be cool if it turned out to be that way,” says Cao. “It transforms what would normally be a very tedious learning process of learning architecture into a fun and potentially social one and I’m all for that.”