In Helen Armstrong’s Graphic Design Theory Karl Gerstner’s Design Programmes and Josef Müller-Brockmann’s Grid and Design Philosophy essays represent an effort to codify design practice. The designers discuss using considered systems in order to solve the problems in their projects.
In Design Programmes Gerstner lays out a matrix of options that attempts to display all the possible options that a logo design could entail. Although the idea that simply choosing an ideal combination of options from a list the results are compelling. In a way that is what designers always do, whether or not they are conscious of it. What Gerstner suggests is a formalization of the design process, by which design can pass muster or fail for lack of compliance.
Is the grid a programme? Let me put it more specifically: if the grid is considered as a proportional regulator, a system, it is a programme par excellence.
Müller-Brockmann’s essay focuses on the grid. A well designed grid allows for typographic consistency and aids in layout. The are used in websites, posters, postcards and are essential to maintain readability in a multi-page publications and books. Müller-Brockmann sees literacy in grid systems as essential to the professional designer.
This is the expression of a professional ethos: the designer’s work should be clearly intelligible, objective, functional, and aesthetic quality of mathematical thinking.
Working with the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity.
Grids are a helpful and essential tool for creating consistent and well considered design. They may seem to limit creativity but really they allow for a framework within which designers can express themselves while maintaining enough order to be applicable to multiple mediums and context. More great writing on grids and their, as well as resources, can be found online at The Grid System and Aisle One.
Some of Josef Müller-Brockmann’s work can be seen below. It’s great stuff.