Pure Design

by Mario Garcia

The subtitle of this book is “79 Simple Solutions for Magazines, Books, Newspapers, and Websites.” I haven’t done much designing for print in the past several years, and Garcia doesn’t actually have much to say about website design. He is a print guy through and through, famous for his redesign work with such publications as The Wall Street Journal.

Still, it’s always interesting to read books like this, for the underlying philosophy of the designer, which can’t help but reveal itself. It also serves to reaffirm many design principles which of course overlap across media. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the basics. And in the basics is really where Garcia’s “pure design” lies:

“My idea of pure design is inspired by minimalism. And, although this movement found its truest manifestations in sculpture–composed of modular units, aluminum and steel cubes, and so on–one can relate to how artists of this group created, for example, horizontal sculptures made of identical units. The overall impression, however, is what contributed to ‘telling the story.’

Likewise, pure design is a series of repetitions: how story structures are created, how a grid is adhered to, with the same number of columns and equal repetitions of white space, for example, with a typographic cluster that is identical, and, if possible, based on one family of type. All of this is ultimately highlighted by a color palette, again made up of similarly hued colors, and only a few, which are constantly repeated.”

A sampling of chapter sections will give a good indication of Garcia’s 79 solutions: Selecting Type, Ragged right vs. justified, Headlines: bigger is better, Visual parallelism, White space… good stuff.

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