The Seen

Christian Leborg’s Concrete Structures

Visual Grammar p. 26–37

This is the part of the textbook where things really began to click in terms of design. Ever since I began learning about design I had trouble with the theory of it. This is largely because I, as a novice, find myself often divorcing concrete design and design theory. I think about design theory as being more of a tool for analyzing concrete design, and often that gets in the way of me creating thoughtful design. I know this isn’t exactly right or a great way to think about design, but the more I learn in terms of theory, the more this fades. The supportive theories in the beginning of this textbook were really helpful for continuing my growing out of this, but pages 26–37 got into the content that I find myself more naturally interested in.

In this portion Leborg writes about two things that are wildly important in terms of understanding design. Types of form and their visible attributes. He writes about how shapes can be geometric, organic or random, but then also talks about how things like size, texture and color are established and why they are important. The way I think about it is like this. Although when one is building a home structural stability is a must, a blueprint or conceptual idea is not a brick. It isn’t an actual window. That is why talking about concrete design is so interesting to me.

Outsides reading

Something really important to me in terms of design in the last two years has been Google’s material design reboot. They have leaned into this idea of design that despite being digital, has a really specific physicality to it. In my opinion this is sort of the ultimate form of concrete design. In Google’s material design, something like a rectangle isn’t just a rectangle, it is a card. A circle behaves like a slightly abstracted paper button. But the abstraction is so little, the design is very physical. All parts of the design motif rely on this physicality. Colors darken when interacted with, shadows are realistic and consistent. There is very much use of things like negative space, but what you see, the concreteness is in the DNA of this design motif.

Looking at the front page of google’s Material Design introduction they encapsulate material design as being largely three parts. The first is this idea of a paper metaphor that I touched on above. Its this idea of using the fundamentals of space and light to aid a user. The next portion touches on the boldness of it, and it’s important, intentional use of colors. The final portion touches on motion, but we will get there in a later reading, I imagine.

this image illustrates the concrete, realistic use of shape and shadow in material design. I thought it might be helpful to include. I think the choice to use structured shapes rather than organic flowing shapes makes a lot of sense in terms of usability. (source)
I think this is fascinating because this texture is so subtle, but it really is the difference between three simple circles and an actual design! The line is so thin! (source)
I think this design is so interesting in how simple it is. I think it is a perfect design of only concrete design. It is only shape and color. And for that reason it has very little personality. It has no theoretical backing. (source)
I just wanted to share this logo because I feel that it is the epitome of organic design, it isn’t necessarily random, but it feels like this organic, true to life form that really embodies the spirit of the olympics. (source)
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