Great Designs that Aren’t Afraid to Leave it Out!

I recently read a great article by Aaron Shekey called “It’s What you Leave Out.” Read it, it’s short! The article references a scene from Almost Famous, reflecting on the concept:

“It’s not what you put into it. It’s what you leave out… Yeah, that’s rock n’ roll.”

I’d argue — yeah, that’s Design too.

It takes a lot of guts sometimes to leave it out. To stick to a strict design constraint can be really difficult in a culture where more is more. But great designs that leave out the extraneous have a quality that makes you pause and look. They stand out for all their simplistic beauty. Here are some great designs that aren’t afraid to leave it out!

1. Cup Noodle

Cup Noodle

Cup Noodle’s history microsite remains true to its iconic product design, opting to leave out all colors except red and white. The minimal color palette makes the photography stand out even more, and allows for some really nice animations that don’t overwhelm the eye.


2. Converse All Star — Design Concept

Resisting the urge to include an overwhelming amount of product photography, colors, and configurations, this design concept for Converse does a great job at guiding the viewer to focus on what matters about the product: the details.


3. Huckberry

This outdoor site delivers a myriad of outdoors products, stories, and photos. Rather than inundate the visitor with tons of content right away, this design allows for a nice moment of pause and reflection that appeals to the audiences’ passion: the beauty of the outdoors.


4. Infographic Map

This map is a great offline example of gradual disclosure. Instead of presenting the pie chart information all at once to the viewer, the map leaves out the info until the viewer decides to learn more about an area. Interacting with the map reveals the detailed information.


5. Fixate Web Design

Black and white may be the only colors used in this design for Fixate, but it is far from boring! Leaving out the color makes room for the viewer to focus on the interesting line work, and even allows for some subtle animation if you pay attention! Fixate leaves out the huge portfolio images most web design home pages feature, and instead presents a brand image that is sophisticated, fun and creative.


6. Materia Branding

Materia uses a simple line–nothing more, to establish an entire brand image. This is the epitome of “leaving it out!” This simple visual language is extended to window signage and other collateral that is even more abstract but remains true to the brand. See the full project here.


7. E Festival Poster

Festival posters tend to be busy, noisy and full of color and illustration. In contrast, just four distinct colors and one huge letter make up this festival poster for an open air event called simply “E.”


8. Worker’s Soap

By leaving out flashy package graphics and minimizing the print design to the point where the type is just legible, This Worker’s Soap package design frees up the eye to focus on the industrial, masculine shape of the soap, the unique way the branding tag is tied to the soap like an old-fashioned package, and the small batch number printed erratically on the back. These details help subtly define the brand as a handcrafted, high quality product made for workers who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves.


9. Two Dots Game

There’s a growing trend in app design toward flat, simple graphics and bright colors as opposed to over-complicated pixel art. Two Dots epitomizes this trend, choosing to leave out everything which isn’t absolutely essential. We are left with, well.. dots! Subtle and beautiful gameplay animation makes this an addictive and rewarding game, and the fun simple map illustrations add charm and personality to the experience.


It’s not what you put into it!

The next time you are faced with a design constraint, embrace it! It will only serve to make the work stand out in its uniqueness. Better yet, why not invent a few arbitrary constraints to exercise your leavitoutability? Be bold in your omissions and don’t be afraid to leave it out!

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