The Debate! The Grid System

During the 1980s the grid system was commonly used with in the postmodern era. This was at a time when culture main aim was to show the branding or ownership of the design. An example given in the lecture was Rick Poyner’s description of postmodernism; ‘a parasite, dependent on its Modernist host’. This would suggest it would not be possible or understood with out any reference to modernism. In contrast to this, modernism is to influence and change the world for better rather than just excepting the world for what it is.

Perhaps one of the controversial concept amongst designers is the use of a grid system or no grid system. Grids are used to create order to a design so a viewer can easily taken in information which has been rationalised. Josef Müller-Brockmann (his works above) states that the use of a grid requires ‘designer’s work should have clear intelligible, objective, functional and aesthetic quality of mathematical thinking’. This would suggest graphic design should have a function and its aesthetics should reflect the content.


However, anti-grid designers would most likely disagree with this, it was suggested that using a grid, a designers work has no individuality. It is neutral as there are so many rules to be followed by using one, such as margins, hierarchy and leading. It was suggested that grids can create authority over space, whether on paper or in everyday life. Though collages are often frowned upon in the art world, its a much more dynamic and visually interesting way of displaying information. Though grids give great clarity to the subject, a collages have much more freedom, as it works through disorder. Many designers such as Thomas Hirschhorn believe that controlled work through the dominant system of a grid cant reflect what he wishes to portray in their works and in doing so it decreases their creativity.

In conclusion, I believe the lay out of design work reflects the mentality of the designer. Previous to this lecture, I personally believed the grid system brings a focus to the message of the design, whether it be political or not. I felt the same when I left. With out  a grid, I believe the message can sometimes get lost amongst the aesthetic appeal.


For example one of my favourite designers, Alan Fletcher, shows that just because you use a grid doesnt mean it can’t be visually inciting by using an unusual font.


Another contrasting example is David Carson who makes quite good point with this piece. With out a grid, a designer could grab a viewers attention. So, in conclusion, I believe using a grid or not depends on what kind of work you wish to produce and what its message is.

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