In a Designer’s World Typefaces number in the thousands, but there are only a hundred or so that are used regularly, because they communicate more than the content they display. The same sign printed in four very different typefaces will attract the attention of four very different readers, and they will convey more than the content. They convey attitude, importance, culture and intention among many other things. In signage, advertising and writing of any kind, typography is vital, because the typeface carries that extra power (Bennett, 2008. Helvetica 2007). However, in learning how to use fonts one discovers that there are certain rules that should never be broken without intention.
Type faces should harmonize.
No more than 3-5 fonts should be used to avoid them becoming meaningless.
Size, density, dimension, color, style and white space all have meaning.
Design of objects has some of the same factors as document design. It is aimed at a particular audience. If text is also displayed the two together, object and text, carry a meaning made from the combination. There are wonderful ideal of design to which many designers adhere, but ultimately, those designers who must earn must design for production, with the needs of the target audience and the process of its use taking a secondary role. Good design needs no marketing. Marketed design is fashion. Therefore, design for production is aimed at marketing the final product with the highest profit margin possible. Good design should have lower prices, but fashion pushes the price up. Therefore, designs which can be mass produced in factories manned by untrained labor and sold as fashionable gets the most attention of many companies.
Apple computers capitalized upon the hunger for fashion (status symbol) in the western public for years, designing first for the look and second for function. This resulted in products that have an avid following and are useful to most. However, they are proprietary, more expensive and they sometimes miss the mark by a mile, as in the first Apple Air, several small desktops and some of the music players. Consumers see Apple as exclusive and somehow better, but most do not realize that this “better” is bought at the price of variety. Anyone designing for Apple must do it their way and be licensed by Apple. Designing for PCs or Android devices only requires complying with the system requirements. This produces better Apple products, since all must pass their rigorous tests, but more variety for other systems with a number of flaws in many products, but lower prices and more availability over all.
One point was made very clearly in the documentary, Objectified (2009): that designing for mass production and fashion and designing for people and function cannot co-exist forever. Fast fashion in clothing is quadrupling the rates of pollution and with new clothing collection coming out every six weeks, production and disposal are major problems. The greatest challenge of design is sustainability in both production and disposal. Ever accelerating consumption cannot continue indefinitely in a world of finite resources. Design is systematic innovation at its heart, and designers are realizing that the future of design is part and parcel of the future of the planet. The smartest companies are rushing to make enough change to survive (Whos the Greenest of them all?, 2009). Business and economics pundits echo Prahalad that sustainability is the new innovation (Nidumolu, Prahalad, &. Rangaswami, 2009). Now we must choose between design for production and consumption or design for survival. This does not eliminate all the wonderful new gadgets, medical innovations and life style marvels around the next corner. It just means that they must be designed thoughtfully with the future as a primary objective.
Bennett, J. (2008). Just go to Helvetica. Newsweek, 151(14), 54-54.
Helvetica. (2007). [DVD] USA: Gary Hustwit.
Nidumolu, R., Prahalad, C. K., &. Rangaswami, M. R. (2009). WHY SUSTAINABILITY IS NOW THE KEY DRIVER OF INNOVATION. (cover story). Harvard Business Review, 87(9), 56-64.
Objectified. (2009). [DVD] UK: Gary HustwitWhos the Greenest of them all?. (2009). Bloomberg Businessweek, November.