Designers create rules as well
as finished pieces. A magazine designer, for example, works with a grid, and a typographic hierarchy that is interpreted in different ways, page after page, issue after issue. If the rules are well planned, other designers will be able to interpret them to produce their own unique and unexpected layouts. Rules create a framework for design without determining the end results.
Style sheets employed in print
and web publishing (CSS) are rules for displaying the different parts of a document. By adjusting a style sheet, the designer can change the apparance of an entire book or website. Style sheets are used to reconfigure a single body of content for output in different media, from printed pages to the screen of a mobile phone.
Rules can be used to generate
form as well as organize content. In
the 1920s, the Bauhaus artist and
designer Laszlo Moholy–Nagy created
a painting by telephoning a set of
instructions to a sign painter. In the
1960s, the minimalist artist Sol Le Witt
created drawings based on simple
instructions; the drawing could be
executed on a wall or other surface
anywhere in the world by following
the directions. Complex webs of lines
often resulted from seemingly simple
verbal instructions.
Designing rules and instruc-
tions is an intrinsic part of the
design process. Increasingly, de-
signers are asked to create sys-
tems that other people will imple-
ment and that will change over time.
This chapter looks at ways to use
rule–based processes to generate
unexpected visual results.
Rules and Randomness