DD3016 History of Design: Lecture 1 Reflections

Printing is one of the four greatest inventions of China. The Chinese first started with woodblock printing, but there were a few problems:

  1. A lot of material(wood) was required to print a whole book
  2. The blocks took up a lot of space
  3. Carving an entire page out of wood meant they had to redo the whole thing even with the tiniest mistake

That’s when Bi Sheng came up with the movable type where each character was carved on individual blocks. As the character blocks are small and could be reused for different pages, it was easier to store and less material was needed. It was also easier to replace the blocks if there were mistakes or damages.


Unfortunately, the Chinese characters are too complicated and there are far too many of them so movable type wasn’t really favoured by the Chinese. Even so, Bi Sheng’s invention led to the development of Johannes Gutenberg’s punch and matrix, and also the first printing press. I think that woodblock printing and movable type are impressive inventions and without them, we might not even have our modern printing techniques of today.











Published by

How Yee Teng

trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do

Leave a Reply