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The World Designed

Hey guys and gals!

This week is all about design, or Design as Vignelli puts it.


We were to read Vignelli’s Canon and express our thoughts and reflections on the things Vignelli finds to be most important in design.


The first thing I must absolutely say is that I think I am now terrified of design. Vignelli describes his methods so eloquently and with such importance that I now see design as a holy art and a time for meditation. Basically, the zen of design.  I can appreciate what he was trying to say because he has noticed that our world is becoming increasingly fake and sloppy. Although he speaks specifically of design, I believe his canon actually applies to everything we do and how we do it. I may not always be able to discern whether time, creativity, and effort were put into a logo but there are certainly many things I have seen that scream of a rush job, or just a splatter of elements that by nature look appealing. Vignelli asks for the meaning behind creative work. What are we starring at if it doesn’t resonate with the deepest parts of us? I would like to go over a few specific things now that really “spoke” to me: Discipline, Semantics, Intellectual Elegance, and Typefaces.

Discipline: In general, I believe discipline makes the Earth turn. I am not disciplined at all aspects of my life but when I manage to be disciplined at something, that thing immediately increases in value. Vignelli states that “quality is there, or it is not” and I couldn’t agree more. I know when my work is good quality and when it is not. There is no covering it up or pretending. The result of discipline is a work that is very characteristic of the creators personality, which I think is the point behind design. If you’re going to spend hours making sure every line is where it needs to be, you are probably going to put a piece of yourself into your work.

Semantics: I really like to clean. Well, for the most part cleaning and organizing brings me joy and ties into an aspect of semantics. Semantics means that you must research for what, or for whom you are creating something. Although this next example might be strange, I think it makes a good point: If I am expecting a guest to the house and I have a spare bedroom that I should prepare for them, semantics would require that I understand what the guest likes and create an environment for them according to that. Do they get cold easily? I should lay out warm blankets. Do they like to have water available at night? I should put a few bottles in the room. If this seems crazy, it’s only because we don’t “think before we do” anymore. One should always think before designing or else your design will be lifeless.

Intellectual Elegance: Basically, I understood this as: make something smart, not something stupid. A smart creation speaks of intelligent design and a stupid one speaks of crude blotches of color and weird lines that have no meaning. Vignette points out that Intellectual Elegance is not a design style, but more a design way of life. Honestly, sometimes when my mother cooks a beautiful Russian meal, I can see the intellectual elegance in it. I don’t see elegance in a McDonalds burger (I still think burgers are delicious though!)

Typefaces: The following quote says it all: “As I said, at the time, if all people doing desktop publishing were doctors we would all be dead!” I never understood why I got so frustrated when I would try and make something “pretty” by scrolling through the hundreds ( I swear it seems like hundreds) of font types. Nothing ever looked good. When Vignelli said that we should only have four, I realized that he may very well be right. Too many choices is not necessarily a good thing. As a matter of fact, it dilutes your work too much and it takes up an unnecessary amount of time.

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