100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design is part of the “100 Ideas that Changed…” series that deals with subjects like Art, Street Style and Film.

It is a collection of 100 ideas that that have manifested themselves in various shapes, forms and areas of design. They are ordered in chronological order and range from technical to stylistic to methods and objects.

The book starts with concepts like “the book”, “body type”, “pastiche” and end with modern concepts: “guerilla advertising”, “pixelation” and “designers’ website”.

These ideas are described by the authors as ” the big ideas that created the critical mass that produced the art and craft of contemporary graphic design. Some of these big ideas derive from past centuries; others are situated squarely in the early to mid twentieth; and still others were conceived during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.”

Some of my favorite ideas from “100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design”:

Red With Black

Idea Nº31

With his 1919 poster “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge”, the Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky capitalized on the stimulating power of red with black, unleashing in the process forces he could not control. Red with black, which he had carefully monitored in a perfectly balanced layout, turned out to be an agressive duo. As a color combination, it has dominated the graphic design world ever since, prevailing against all odds as the most ubiquitous, all-purpose, universal color code.

Forced Obsolescence

Idea Nº55

The goal of what in the 1920’s was called “style engineering”—better known to us as “forced obsolescence “— was to increase consumer interest and make products more stylish through modern design. Marketers, promoters, and commercial artists believed that profits could be increased with packaging and promoting merchandise given a modernistic veneer. The advertising artist and design pioneer Raymond Loewy referred to the notion as MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable)— that is, avant-gardisms that did not too shockingly defy popular tastes.

Less is more

Idea Nº73

In Europe after World War II, “Ulm” was a magic word for anyone interested in graphic design. Referring to the Ulm School of Design (Hochschule für Gestaltung), a prestigious German design school founded in 1953 by Max Bill, it symbolized a new aesthetic so radical, so unencumbered, so flawless, that it felt like the dawn of a new age.