Wednesday, November 09, 2005


There’s an adage that goes something like, “With chaos comes order, and with order comes chaos.” And this essay began to give me nervous tics. Frankly I found it a little annoying when Muller-Brockman began going on and on about measurements, Pythagoras, proportions, and mathematics (the source of my tics, I’m sure . . .), and felt my whole life in graphic design flash before my eyes. That could also just be this migraine but I digress.

Yeah, I’m all for grids. Go grids. Woo! God knows we need grids to herd the sheep from home to work and back again. Without organization in design, I can understand perfectly how grids are “vital in sociopolitical life,” you adorable constructivist you. “Constructivist design means the conversion of design laws into practical solutions.” (198) Agreed. The less we have to explain ourselves, the better.

(In the meantime, I find it funny how with all this talk about grids and structure, Muller-Brockman refuses to implement correct punctuation in spots, just thought I’d point that out and now I’m done.)

But if there is so much structure to design, where’s the risk taking? Where’s the swashbuckling adventure? Where’s the guts? “Work with the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity.” Eh? The universe is all order and no chaos? I like a healthy teaspoon of chaos with my cup of order in the morning, thanks, I don’t know about you. “The use of the grid system implies . . . the will to adopt a positive, forward-thinking attitude.” (198) So without grids we’re backward emos?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for grids. Go grids. But I’m wondering about monotony in design if everything was plotted down to the last dotted I and crossed T. If you plan everything precisely to solve a visual problem without experimenting outside of grids, you lessen your chances to discover something new. I think you need to find a balance between order and chaos here, to keep your design organized and communicative—but also keep your viewers on their toes.


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