What really makes good design work? It’s a question we as professional designers ask daily. For some designers, it is a constant struggle. But for a handful of top award winning designers, it seems to come easy. What’s their secret?
The answer? It’s all around us. The answer is given to us in nature. The answer has repeatedly revealed itself to us over time.
Mathematicians and philosophers throughout time have been aware of the key. The key to what makes things ‘work’ – both from a spiritual perspective, and in the world of physics.
Perhaps what sets top designers apart from the rest, is that they have discovered this key. Whether through deep personal exploration, or simply by being more in tuned to the world around them – they are aware of the patterns all around us and have harnessed these ‘secret’s and applied them in the world of graphic design.
Award winning designer, Maggie Macnab is one of these unique individuals. Her logo design work has taken top awards worldwide for decades. In her book ‘Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication‘, Macnab shares her secrets of success.
Each chapter progresses numerically – from zero to ten reflecting the importance these numbers play in design. From simple shapes like circles and squares, to more complex shapes like spirals, they are all seen in nature. They are all part of the key to effective design.
In each chapter, Macnab deconstructs award winning logo designs by applying the principals she is teaching. The book contains photographs from nature, architecture, and history. She includes photos of her sketches in which she reveals her creative process when designing logos. And finally, she includes visuals of the completed logos. Through this process, readers begin to understand how everything is related.
What we learn from the explorations in this book, can be applied to all aspects of design – not just logos. From brochure and website design, to motion graphic design – the principals of effective design are all the same.
I would rank this book as the top design book of the decade. It is something that has been sorely missing. It should be required reading in all design curriculum. Never before has a designer taken the time to go through their process, and put it down in words in such an eloquent and explanatory fashion. I for one, am grateful Macnab has taken the time to do so. Decoding Design is one book that should be on all designer’s bookshelves.