Jan Tschichold, “The Principles of the New Typography” pg35-38, Karl Gerstner, Designing Programmes pg55-61, Joseph Muller-Brockman, “Grid and Design Philosophy” pg62-63 from Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field by Helen Armstrong.

  • How do each of these designers/authors think you should approach design?
  • Include an example of contemporary typography/layout that embodies each of these three design systems or philosophies. And explain why!

Following the readings of Jan Tschichold, Karl Gerstner, and Joseph Muller Brockman in Helen Armstrong’s “Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field”, I find that there are many shared opinions when it comes to contextualizing typography in graphic design through the decades.

Jan Tschichold’s “The Principles of the New Typography” from 1928 illustrates his ideas of typography that were often found to be controversial and very much considered definite, concise, and clear. When it came to learning practices, Tschichold also demonstrated the fact that having the opportunity to work on several art forms positively impacts one’s ability to create art. While Tschichold, according to Armstrong’s text, had a passion for symmetrical design function, he chose to put his passion alongside the broad typographic movement that had a widescale impact on designers over decades.

In “Designing Programs”, Karl Gerstner takes an intriguing approach to the understanding of design as a designer specifically, as he took his passion for science and combined it with the means of art. Gerstner’s way of thinking one should approach design is through forming the concept of problems and solutions, both literally and metaphorically. Gerstner believed that designers should take time before creating works, as emotions can easily outweigh logic and prevent legitimate creative decisions. Keywords such as parameters, criteria, components, and marks are utilized to describe the process of design in a way that keeps it mostly formal and uniform, along with being considerably less “emotional” such as “going with the flow freely”. In Gerstner’s work, we can read the mathematical components that build certain typographies or designs. Overall, Gerstner’s written ideology about design taps into the thoughts that design is merely composed of programs, the process is made of components and selections rather than free-flowing creations.

Finally, Joseph Muller Brockman’s 1981 work “Grid and Design Philosophy” takes an insight into the role of designers and how their work impacts the cultural environment surrounding them. Brockman’s approach to design is composed of a grid system, in which it almost forms a hierarchy in its “requirements” for a designer to achieve. Many of these include how the grid system clarifies multiple wills, such as cultivating objectivity, rationalizing creative production processes, integrating elements, and much more. In Brockman’s work, he writes:

“Every visual creative work is a manifestation of the character of the designer. It is a reflection of his knowledge, his ability, and his mentality.”

This idea illustrates the connection between a designer and the work that they have designed; there is always a connection whether that is the intention or not. Every creative piece of work is analyzed and ultimately reflects the designer of how they came to create it through their abilities.

There is a multitude of contemporary design typographies and layouts that convey similar aspects of the forms that these three designers describe in their written works. Alongside this, it is additionally evident that these three designers took moral cues to participate in the modern typographic design movement, be it their intended study or not. This dedication and contribution to the movement are shown in all of their works and within their writing.

Hypothesis Annotations:

Emphasis of Idea

Definition of Concrete Art Movement

Suggested Idea