Every design problem is completed
within a set of constraints or limita-
tions. These limits can be as broad
as"design a logo," as generic as
"print on standard letter paper," or
as narrow as "arrange six circles in
a square space"
Modularity is a special kind
of constraint. A module is a fixed
element used within a larger system
or structure. For example, a pixel is
a module that builds a digital image.
A pixel is so small, we rarely stop to
notice it, but when designers create
pixel-based typefaces, they use a
grid of pixels to invent letterforms
that are consistent from one to
the next while giving each one a
distinctive shape.
A nine-by-nine grid of pixels
can yield an infinite number of
different typefaces. Building
materials–from bricks to lumber to
plumbing parts–are manufactured
in standard sizes. By working with
ready–made materials, an architect
helps control construction costs
while also streamlining the design
Designers are constantly
making desicions about size, color,
placement, proportion, relation-
ships, and materials as well as about
subject matter, style, and imagery.
Sometimes, the desicion-making
process can be so overwhelming,
it's hard to know how to begin and
when to stop. When a few factors
are determined in advance, the
designer is free to think about other
parts of the problem. A well-defined
constraint can free up the thought
process by taking some desicions
off the table.