Order isn’t wishful thinking, especially not for designers. Design work has to really rely on the underlying grid of rationality and efficiency, to get simplicity, legibility, and objectivity. Celebrated Swiss designer and teacher, Joseph Müller-Brockmann (1914-1996), called this approach a “clear identification of priorities.”
The influential pioneer of functional, neutral, and objective design, Müller-Brockmann insisted there should be a distinct arrangement of typographic and pictural elements in every work. He called for the coordination between the different graphic tools at the disposal of every designer, including “the formal organization of the surface by means of the grid, a knowledge of the rules that govern legibility (line length, word and letter spacing, etc.), and the meaningful use of color.”
With this approach, he took the design aesthetics of the 1920 a step further. Müller- Brockmann was identified with the Swiss International Style, and he was inspired by Constructivism, Suprematism, De Stijl, and Bauhaus, but he added an illustrative touch of his own. Through his interplay of scale, movement, and energy in the imagery, he remained true to the grid, aligning his visual elements with a solid, universal network system.
“Everything should have a distinct purpose on the page,” and anything that does not advance the message should be avoided.
A key challenge in our award-winning book, On the Hummus Route, was having to harmonize multiple content formats. To form a uniform look between photos, illustrations, texts, recipes, captions, and title sets, we developed a clear grid that connected everything together. It formed a clear through-line across all seven chapters of the book, while enabling the uniqueness of each chapter (which encapsulates a different city) to shine through.
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