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A Bible of Designs!

March 9, 2019

A Bible of Designs!

This is a real-life incident. One of my classmates hosted me to a treat in exchange for letting him copy from me during the examination. I remain grateful to him for considering me to be better than him in studies. During exams, he was seated right behind me. Halfway through he signaled me to show him my paper. I honored his request as I had the guilt of getting bribed. He was incensed after looking at my paper. “Bloody fellow, you will fail. Stop drawing pictures and write something,” he hissed like an angry-snake in a low voice. I had answered all questions through diagrams, flow-charts, tables, and infographics, which he didn’t understand and thus he couldn’t easily copy from me. I still managed to get through the examinations with good marks!

“A single picture can speak a thousand words.” I am very much graphical oriented person. I try to make even my scientific presentations graphically oriented and self-descriptive. I just can’t tolerate when some other presenters do not care for aesthetic looks for the slides and fill their slides with a complete paragraph of text. I agree we should not divert the attention of the audience away from the scientific topic. However, poorly designed slides take away all the interest of the audience about the topic too!

One of my slides from a scientific presentation.

“Don’t judge by appearances.” We all heard it as children. Be we do, because we live in a visual culture, and our minds instantly react to what we see. It is often said, “The first impression is the best impression.” First impressions are key to how we perceive the world and are perceived by it.
They are our introductions to everything: acquaintances, the world place, products, experiences, retail stores, the internet, entertainment, relationships, design. And based on our first impressions, we judge things. We can’t help it. Does that sound terrible?

“I’ve found that the two most effective and fascinating aspects of first impressions-both the ones I create and those I encounter-are at opposite ends of the spectrum: Clarity and Mystery. After more than thirty years as a practicing designer, and what happens when they get mixed up or misused,” narrates the author Chip Kidd.

Jurassic Park book design by Chip Kidd.

Chip Kidd is a graphic designer and writer living in NewYork City. He is the designer of book covers of some of the best authors and best-sellers of the world. Do you remember the iconic front design of the novel “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, which subsequently became the signature logo of the movie and merchandise of Jurassic movie? The logo depicting the silhouette of the T-Rex skeleton. Later this design was adapted for the movie also, which showed the dinosaur enclosed in a yellow circle, and towering above a jungle silhouette and a black bar with the words “Jurassic Park.” Chip Kidd was the brain behind the original design. Kidd is the recipient of the National Design Award for communication, bestowed by the Smithsonian Institute’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. For graphic designers, that’s about as good as it gets.

The book, “Judge this” by Chip Kidd.

The book “Judge this,” by Chip Kidd is curated by TED books and he has also delivered a hilarious and absorbing TED talk – “Designing books is no laughing matter. Ok, it is.” This book was part of that expensive TED book set I bought on Amazon. In this book, Kidd breaks down the good and the bad, the confusing and the clear, the absurd and the splendid. Design, you see, rests on a spectrum that ranges from clarity to mystery. Some design requires clarity; other design needs a lot more mystery, most need a bit of both. Kidd reveals the hidden secrets behind design choices, and, along the way, shows how so much of our world can be a dazzling magic show, a seductive work of art, and a sublime experience-if we have the tools to judge it.

According to Kidd, “You should be clear when you need people to understand you immediately. You want others to be clear when you need vital and specific information – say, technical guidance for your computer or phone, or when you’re lost and you ask someone for directions. You should be mysterious when you want to get people’s attention and hold it, when you want your audience to work harder-when, frankly, you have something to hide.” About designing the books covers he says, “I want the viewer to ‘get it’ right away, but more often I want to intrigue him or her enough to investigate the book further (i.e., to open it up, begin to read it, and hopefully buy it).”

He summarises saying, “The idea is to create a visual piece of communication that can be understood in any language.” He has also suggested a ‘Mysteri-o-meter,’ a simple scale that marks the balance between clarity(!) and Mystery (?) – the former at 1 and the latter at 10- which he applied to all the visual examples in the book.

For a person who gives attention to design and details, this small 125 page A5 size book has become a “Bible of Designing.” An interesting read for the people who care about graphical designing and aesthetics. Take home message from the book for me is, “When you have a problem to solve-whether it’s fixing a leak, keeping deer of your yard, or trying to mend a broken relationship-your inspiration, your first clue about what to do, lies within an analysis of the problem itself. That’s where the solution originates.”

Dr. Prahlada N.B, Chitradurga



Prahlada N.B

Thank you very much for visiting my blog. I am an Indian and I am a patriot. My Vision: I don't want to be a genius. I want to be a person with a bundle of experience. My mission: Help others achieve their life's objectives in my presence or absence! My Values: Creating value for others. My main interests are climate change, water conservation, food for all, preserving natural resources, health, and hearing. I work in these fields relentlessly and fearlessly to make this world a better place for our next generation.


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