The Visible Language Workshop (VLW) grew out of the 1973 Messages and Means course taught by Muriel Cooper. Cooper joined the MIT community as a designer and began a notable design career in the Office of Publications. She became director of the Office of Publications and was also a Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) fellow, director of design services, art director at MIT Press and co-founder of the VLW with Ron MacNeil.
The VLW took a broad approach to design, working primarily with interactive design, but also with photography, typesetting, platemaking and a wide range of explorations. The VLW was well connected with both CAVS and the Architecture Machine Group, and was one of the original research groups of the Media Lab when it was founded in 1985. The Visible Language Workshop Special Collection now consists primarily of video and audio tapes, teaching slides, and an extensive portfolio of detailed notes and documents that reveal the theories, inner workings, and products of Muriel Cooper’s VLW, dealing with interactive media design, electronic communication, and experiments with computer and print technologies.

Poster design by Muriel Cooper for the Bauhaus publication of MIT Press, 1969 © Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by permission of the MIT Press
Muriel Cooper in front of printing sheets for the MIT Press book Bauhaus, ca. 1976. © Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by permission of the MIT Press
Bar foot Muriel Cooper at a MIT Press meeting, early 1970s © Archives of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Muriel Cooper self-portrait printed at the Visible Language Workshop, 1982 © MIT Press
Muriel Cooper and students, 1978 © MIT Art Culture Technology Special Collection Visual Language Workshop
Students at the Visible Language Workshop © MIT Press