Monday, November 23, 2009

Complicated isn't always good

I visited the library today to get a book I needed for next semester's syllabus, and while there I went to the well-stocked and well-curated children's area to see if I could pick up anything for the kids.

While looking for books about sports, to feed one of Archer's obsessions, my eye was caught by the bright colors and crinkly plastic jacket of A Book About Design by Mark Gonyea. Sometime last year I brought home its sequel, Another Book About Design, and Cady Gray and I had read through it.

This one focuses on the relationships between space, simple shapes, and color. While Noel fixed dinner, Cady Gray read it to me, howling with laughter at the pages that talked to her (sample: one page asks you to imagine two intersecting straight lines drawn through an empty square, and the next page shows the same square with the legend, "Take your time, I'll wait").

The book makes an interesting move from looking at how changing size, shape, balance, and relationships changes the overall perception of a graphic, to thinking about "importance" and how it's communicated through design. Where are your eyes drawn? What lets you know what part of the page to look at first? And if you tweak a texture over here, you have to rethink the whole thing -- because changing one thing changes everything.

I'm fascinated by design. Not being artistically inclined, I'm in awe of the way some people can see these things instinctively. And so I appreciate when someone takes the time to move the pieces around and talk about what happens.

No comments: