Design Bones

Christian Leborg’s Abstract Structures

visual grammer p. 18–25

Visual Grammar by Christian Leborg is a fascinating venture. It is really brilliant to me how the author is able to put words to design systems. This whole chapter is about organization structure and how we as designers organize content. It is interesting to me, however, what was left out of the conversation. The chapter begins by just talking generally about what organization abstractly means. I think it is an important foundation for what it goes on to say. It talks about the inherent “pattern-ness” of abstract systems. That the only way we are able to recognize them at all is by having an eye for pattern. I think this makes a lot of sense to me. The only way that we can find some sense of order is by something’s relationship to another thing, and when that relationship is tested or broken it is fascinating to see what that means.

The chapter goes on to talk about different types of structures. It tells the reader of formal, balanced, orderly structures that fit in a grid, but also about ones that fit into a circular sort of grid. It was interesting how it wrapped up showing how a grid structure could be overlaid a circular structure and work together as one large system. But what was really interesting to me was how little it wanted to say about these principles. Sure, a structure can have this strange, interesting variance, but what does that mean? I was surprised how little it commented and maybe it is the Gestalt in me trying to marry decisions and meaning, but I am interested to see how if this book continue to divorce meaning and decision.

Gestalt in the Wild

The first thing that I thought of when we began reading this chapter was this tile system. This piece (because thats really what it is) is a simple composition. It starts with a perfect grid of squares. But what it does with the squares is give them all a slight tilt, changing everything. In the chapter it mentions how a slight change can change the underlying structure classification in the piece, but it is fascinating to me how this piece’s structure doesn’t change. It remains very unified in terms of its spacing and repetition, but recieves this immense injections of dynamism. It feels like it is shifting and moving and my eye is constantly looking for a square that is out of place. I am really intrigued by this pattern. I dont really understand how a really regulated, regimented pattern can feel so much like the whole thing is an anomoly. I was first attracted to reading this piece because of its supposed connection to the Gestalts, and now having read it, the connection is so clear. All these parts work together to make a whole that is wildly dirffeent and greater than its parts. I love me some Gestalt theories. (source)

This is the exhibit that shows the gestalt pieces. It is such an interesting exhibit. I at first wished this showed more examples and Gestaltian concepts, but the fact that it revs on this specific type of content really forces you to observe. (source)
The NYT grid is an interesting one to me because it has a really formal, orderly grid/structure, but I feel that it actually isn’t very effective. I think that it could use an informal break or highlight to accentuate content, because without that I feel everything gets lost. (source)
I think this piece has a really strange structure to it. It draws these association between the shapes, but the fact that it has multiple layers of organization (with the varying fills that are masks of some under image) makes for a super complex organization structure. (source)
It is fascinating to me that even though some pieces try and break the grid, there is no way to escape analysis of structure. Even though this breaks an obvious grid it can still be classified as an informal structure. (source)