I recently flipped through two books referred to the most important titles in graphic design history: The Vignelli Canon, written by Massimo Vignelli, and Paul Rand: A Designer's Art. Both books are meticulously designed and packed with their legendary author's design philosophies. Although they differ very much in size and imagery, they both provide meaningful insight from different perspectives to approaching design.
I am still working on the brand identity for the Corner, and seek to make all my design decisions meaningful. Especially when approaching materials such as the annual report and the overall brand book, each detail matters in representing the organization. I love that aspect of design - each color, typeface, alignment works in harmony to present something bigger than itself.
Here are the most important pieces of advice I took from Vignelli and Rand:
1. The essence of design is intellectual elegance - it guides us to solutions, provides awareness, encourages civic responsibility, etc.
2. Design must be timeless - it is pointless if not clear, simple, and enduring.
3. There are three levels of responsibility in design - to ourselves, to the client, and to the public or user.
4. "Good design needs courage" (Vignelli).
5. "Trite ideas, or unimaginative translation of those ideas, are often the result not of poor subject matter but of poor interpretation of a problem" (Rand).
6. The problem of an artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary.
7. Always use a grid!