Friday, May 22, 2009
The "E" bothers you, doesn't it? It is incongruous to the meaning of the word structure. The word feels as if it can't stand on its own. As you read down the letters you expect a certain symmetry to follow the function of the word.
I picked this photo of the Paris airport because of the structure. Everything in the photo is composed based on the architect's vision. As I was looking at this picture I was thinking of the need for structure in our lives. Our moral structure, our societal or governmental structure, our personal structure that we impose on our lives. It occurred to me that in design we start with structure but some of the more challenging designers then break from the the obvious formulas or expectations. Designers like Tibor Kalman or David Carson made entire careers out of breaking the rules.
The question to ask is when is the right time to break the rules and mess up the structure. Obviously not by moving the "E" off the bottom of the word. Even that could have worked if I had used a very stressed font that already felt "unstable." Then the off-balance "E" would have been expected or almost anticipated.
The second part to the question of structure is how do we break the design to make it even stronger than before? I know there are no easy answers to this question but I would say that many new inspiring new ideas are born out of instinct, rebellion and experimentation.
But in the act of breaking the structure it still needs to be respected. Order needs to be formed even within visual chaos. It can happen by the chance of colors grouping in not so arbitrary ways, or scale being used to define space and then the chaos is laid upon it. However we choose to risk breaking the structure we alway have to offer the viewer a new way to see that creates a new order in their thinking.
But the truth is that even in breaking the rules the most rebellious designers often become predictable for the particular set of rules that create the structure to their individual look - and they become imitated. Eventually their rules become the rules to be broken. Structure prevails in the end because of the human need for order.