"Design is intelligence made visible." –– Alina Wheeler
This is a memo Mark wrote to staff members
and bosses to discuss good newspaper
design, but it applies to our approach to all
types of publications –– print or digital.
hen I talk about design,
I can’t help but talk about my favorite designer.
He’s not a newspaper designer. I’m talking about real brain-power. Pure magic. I’m talking about Frank Lloyd Wright.
When I was a kid, he inspired me. His plans for houses stopped me in my tracks. They were so elegant, simple, yet right. So right. Rooms flowed into other rooms. Space matched use. Form followed function.
What makes Wright’s work so compelling is that it makes perfect sense. It’s strong without being overpowering. It makes a statement without pretension. It needs no fanfare. It stands on its own. It is the embodiment of Aristotle’s ideal for excellence.
Wright’s work was empowered by a keen sense of light, space and proportion. God, he could make it all work.
I know now that those three things are the key to any good design –– be it clothing, kitchen gadgets, houses or websites. The designer who can blend light, space and proportion (without making it obvious) has the keys
to communicate with the soul.
A client of Wright’s once told him she wanted to hire him because his houses had the “countenance of principle.” That’s a great description of superior newspaper design.
If Wright had designed a publication or website, he would have started with a clean slate, a fresh look.
Then he would have considered the environment –– in the case of a newspaper, its readers. He’d make the paper work for them.
Understanding that papers are about the written word, typefaces would have a high priority. He’d choose fonts that were strong without shouting, that allowed enough variety to change pace but not abruptly so.
He would have realized the important role pictures play in communicating news to readers. He would have made sure the authority of good photos imbued his design.
Then he would have considered space. He would
have made it the “light” of his newspaper designs, giving type and art room to breathe. There would be no clutter. Rules, logos, banners would work harmoniously and appear
only when necessary.
Lastly, he would make all things consistent, varying
from form only for special
or important reasons.
Wright’s signature Fallingwater in Bear Run, Pennsylvania (top), seems to me an appropriate
icon for good paper or
digital design — a blend
of purposeful lines,
solid core masses and
radiance. It fits with
establishing a warm
retreat that infuses
strength through beauty.
Design & Branding
Design & Branding
BRANDING that works
DESIGN that works
DESIGN INTEGRAL TO STORYTELLING
Click Lola for more
JUST FOR FUN
Mark often embellishes cards and snail mail to friends and family.
Click on a card as it slides by for a close-up view of his watercolor handiwork.
Mark offered design ideas (right) as a template for the Amarillo, Texas, front page (above); and, for a newpaper banner (in color, below).
Click button to hear
Bolling and Rampal's
"Baroque and Blue"