Great Design is Little Design
Have you ever attempted to make sense of a cluttered piece of design? Did you ever have to explain your own design to a confused client? These are instances when trying to do too much turns back against you and you end up with what we unapologetically call a casserole.
In food terms, a casserole is a bit of every ingredient thrown in together to make a hasty and plentiful meal. In design terms, it is a potpourri of every design technique you master thrown in together to make one piece. But it is neither satisfactory for the client, nor distinguishable as a display of your talent.
What It the Secret of Great Design?
The concept of great, timeless design is very simple: less is more. See how beautiful it sounds? Three simple words, conveying a great meaning. Just like your designs, which should be easy on the eye of the beholder, if you want him to perceive its beauty. The secret of creating great minimalistic design is to be able to concentrate the whole project brief into one word. One word comprising the entire idea or emotion you try to capture. This is the heart of your design.
How Do I Find the Heart of My Design?
One high impact campaign, creating awareness that smoking leads to infertility, showed a woman pushing an empty baby pram. It was simple, powerful, and effective. One of the best book covers for Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita showed a bright pink hair scrunchie on a pitch black background.
In every example, the same concept is at work: get to the naked idea and express it in the most direct way ever. Imagine that you go in a foreign country, you don’t speak the language and that your design must make everyone understand your meaning, without any words. This is, actually, the entire concept of graphic design: a universal language conveying the same idea to people of different nations and cultures.
Won’t It Look Like Over Simplistic?
I don’t really like TV commercials, but one of them made a point. It was the ad for a whitening toothpaste. It shows a model ready for a photo session, full of jewelry and accessories. Then she smiles and the photographer decides to remove all accessories and let her smile be the only type of “bling” in the photo.
I’m only using this to show that simple is never boring. Simple, to the point is not the same as hasty pasting together of a few elements to look like you did some work. And just remember the basic rule: if you have to explain your design in words, it is a cluttered design.
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