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HERE’S A THOUGHT

What is Perfection?

24/07/15

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to understanding the detail of design theory. Perhaps like me, (be you designer or powerpoint author) you sometimes put the type where you think it looks nice, and get to the next thing? The quote image opposite follows this ‘beat the deadline’ approach.

The cover of the book by Jan Tschichold opposite took a bit more care. The guy spent decades wrestling with how to make the standard rectangle formats of publishing (at 1:4 ratios) come closer to the more slender 1:6 ratio of the ‘perfect’ Renaissance rectangle. On this cover the distance from baseline of ‘asymmetric’ to the top of the book is the same as the books width – there is a hidden square, and that’s why it looks ‘sublime’. Sorry to sound precious.

So what? Well, perhaps with the speed of much commercial design we risk flipping out design like fast food burgers, failing to take the time to ensure there is more than meets the eye – the stuff that separates good from great.

I am going to put this image of ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s foot above my desk. To remind me that seemingly effortless visual grace takes considerable work. And as a spur for being less relaxed about layout, and more considerate of the efforts of people like Tschichold. Because they did the hard work – all we need to do is take a little time to understand their principles. Perfection isn’t sublime – it’s hard flipping work.

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