Massimo Vignelli gave some incredibly useful tips in his small book about design. Although he did write this in a pre-Internet age many of his tips about design still hold true today.
As I was reading Vignelli’s book, you can tell that he takes his profession quite seriously and I am not sure if I have ever met anyone who sees graphic design as serious as he does. My mother is a graphic designer and she has never been so somber about her job. But nevertheless, it is great that he takes it so seriously because he was able to develop some fantastic ideas about design and even connects it to the real world and people’s lives.
Some of his tips and ideas that resonated with me the most are listed below.
Vignelli writes that designs should be able to stand on their own, be timeless. One could say that many logos fit this category of being timeless. In fact, Vignelli points out that many logos become a part of our collective culture. One prime example that he gives is Coca-Cola. It doesn’t matter what word you use, if you use the Coca-Cola font, everyone knows exactly where it comes from.
The author states that it is important to search the meaning of each design. I have never thought about doing this before when designing anything in my life. Even when I was in a Photoshop class I was just trying to get the assignment done and not truly trying to understand the meaning behind. This is obviously an important first step to any design project and I will start practicing it from now on.
Vignelli mentions towards the end of the book that there are two standards for paper sizes, International Standard and American. I believe that this shows how much design is ingrained into American culture. The mere fact that we have our own set of standardized paper sizes while the rest of the world does not, shows how America is a clear hot spot for the design profession.
One aspect that Vignelli touches on that I found particular comical was the about how typeface has basically gone to hell thanks to desktop publisher. He says that is practically criminal that anyone can make their own typeface because not everyone knows the rules of designs and therefore should not be allowed to design whatever they want. I found this particularly funny because earlier this week I read articles about how bad fonts like Comic Sans are and how everyone needs to stay away from it. Vignelli may not have known it when he wrote his book, but in this section about typography, he was referencing Comic Sans.
When Vignelli mentions texture, he states that light is the overall determinant and of texture. I never thought of that before. I did not think about how much light can affect texture but now that he has pointed it out to me, I will start to consider with my photography.
There were of course many more aspects and tips that he mentions but these are the ones that stuck out to me the most and the ones that I found the most useful.