In his introduction to the Vignelli Canon, esteemed, prolific designer Massimo Vignelli writes, “I thought that it might be useful to pass some of my professional knowledge around, with the hope of improving [young designers’] design skills. Creativity needs the support of knowledge to be able to perform at its best.”
I read this for the first time a couple of months ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Thank you, Massimo. I’m an old designer. But you managed to improve my skills, too.
Vignelli on Semantics.
“Design without semantics is shallow and meaningless but, unfortunately it is also ubiquitous, and that is why it is so important that young designers train themselves to start the design process in the correct way- the only way that can most enrich their design.
Semantics, in design, means to understand the subject in all its aspects; to relate the subject to the sender and the receiver in such a way that it makes sense to both. It means to design something that has a meaning, that is not arbitrary, that has a reason for being, something in which every detail carries the meaning or has a precise purpose aimed at a precise target.”
Vignelli on Syntactics.
“Mies, my great mentor said: “God is in the details.” That is the essence of syntax: the discipline that controls the proper use of grammar in the construction of phrases and the articulation of a language, Design. The syntax of design is provided by many components in the nature of the project. In graphic design, for instance, they are the overall structure, the grid, the typefaces, the text and headlines, the illustrations, etc.”
“Syntactic consistency is of paramount importance in graphic design as it is in all human endeavors.”
Vignelli on Pragmatics.
“The final look of anything is the by-product of the clarity (or lack of it) during its design phase. It is important to understand the starting point and all assumptions of any project to fully comprehend the final result and measure its efficiency. Clarity of intent will translate in to clarity of result and that is of paramount importance in Design. Confused, complicated designs reveal an equally confused and complicated mind.”