Vignelli’s advice

In the publication, Vignelli took a rather abstract tone, which given the subject matter, seemed entirely applicable. I took a digital design course once as a part of my journalism major at Wichita State University where we covered, although using a different frame work and different terminology, many of the thing that Vignelli discussed. Before that class, I thought of design as, at most, choosing a color and layout that caught people’s eye, or didn’t. Discussing the use of space, typography, the way that certain elements of design appeal in different ways, and so on was, at the time, foreign. Now, I am certainly still a novice at design by any means of the term, but I have now, at least, developed a sense to look at some piece of design and make judgements about why a designer might have chosen to do what they have done.
The element of design that I never considered before was just how deliberate, purposeful, and even communicative it is. Design conveys meaning and delivers a message just like verbiage, and those messages need to enhance or compliment one another.
As for the deliberate aspect, Vignelli argues in his booklet that no element of a design ought to be decided or created arbitrarily; every element has a purpose and if they do not, then they may be undermining the purpose of the work. As he put it, there is no hierarchy of design. Placement, colors, typography, shapes, and so forth all work together to accomplish a common aim, to convey a message.
As is the case for any message medium, there are senders and receivers, and the differences between them make it difficult to understand the impact of the message. In the way that a writer need be conscious of how particular words evoke certain feelings and thoughts in people reading them, a designer needs to be aware of how each of their design choices either reinforces or contradicts their message, and to keep it consistent. Design is art and art is communication. It necessary contains a subject, a medium, and an audience and a good designer is constantly aware of the impact of their design choices on all three.

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