When choosing a colour scheme for my final piece, various elements of my research were combined. I sought inspiration from a variety of sources, not only through the art and design world, but also from physical precedent.

It was my intention to devise a colour scheme which was not only eye-catching but connected with the key word, geometry. It was important to retain the simplicity of the piece, therefore I opted to use a palette of only two main colours, and tints of these to reveal the hidden word.

The two colours used in the final piece are complimentary secondary colours; they are at directly opposite ends of the colour wheel.

Screenshot from Abode Kuler application; http://kuler.adobe.com/

To decide on the colouring for the final piece, I consulted colour theory and investigated the meaning behind the intended colours to ensure they were appropriate with the application and design.

The contrast between the blue and orange adheres to colour theory guiding, for research I used the following book;

Sutton, T. and Whelan, B. M., 2004. L’harmonie des couleurs : Le guide. Singapour: Rockport Publishers.

Anon, n.d. Front Cover – L’harmonie des couleurs : Le Guide. [electronic print] Available at: <http://storage.canalblog.com/21/64/356162/17505906_m.jpg> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

Not only does the book identify hundreds of potential colour combinations, it also explains the use of colours and their associated meaning.

Appropriately, a meaning associated with blue is order, something present throughout my piece and representative of geometry. Therefore it is appropriate that the ordered elements, following the strict grid were blue.

Contrastingly orange is associated with energy and exuberance, highly appropriate for the geometric squares breaking up the extending blue pattern.

Anon, 2011. Images from L’Harmonie des couleurs : Le Guide. [photograph].

Researching further into colour theory regarding the choices of the blue and orange for the final design I became aware of a colour theory relating to equiluminant colours. Equiluminance relates to colours which have the same luminance, this creates the appearance of motion or movement, as we are unable to distinguish between the edges of touching shapes.1 As the colours I have chosen are equiluminant, it was important to ensure the blocks of colour did not touch or this would create instability within the piece, contrasting the aims.

When deciding on the colour scheme for the piece I believe I took influence directly from a variety of sources.

The combination of bright orange and blue is currently increasingly popular, with designers of all areas. Below are several examples of use of the colours influencing my choice.

Paula Scher – Maps Series

Anon, 2011. Front Cover – Maps. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.tagfinearts.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/m/a/maps.jpg> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

While not restricting herself to the two tone colour palette as I did, Paula Scher combines bright contrasting colours in a visually pleasing way in her Maps series.

Interior Design

Within the interior design industry the contrasting combination of blue and orange is being increasingly used, as outlined in this article for Houzz; http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/23851

Anon, 2011. Kids Bedroom Design. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.alinskie.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/orange-camerette-aurora-kids-bedroom-design.jpg> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

Anon, 2011. Dark Blue and Orange Design. [electronic print] Available at: <http://elyounes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/dark-blue-wall-paint-and-dark-orange-interior-for-teen-bedroom.jpg> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

Finally I know I was partly influenced by the new London Overground Network. The refurbished and extended East London Line opened with a new colour scheme of blue and orange. The combination creates an impression of movement as well as ensuring a modernist feel.

London Overground Network

Transport for London, 2011. Adjusted Image from London Overground Design Standards. [original electronic print] Available at: <http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/media/12523.aspx#lul> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

Transport for London, 2010. Visualisation of Hoxton Station. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.designforlondon.gov.uk/what-we-do/space/london-overground-network/> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

Artofthestate, 2010. London Overground Train. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.artofthestate.co.uk/london_photos/london-overground-train.htm> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

Anon, n.d. Interior of London Overground Train. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.london2012.com/images/stectator-travel/overground.jpg> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

The colours chosen I believe reflect the ambition of the piece, to portray geometry with the simple colour palette reflecting the simplicity of geometry and the contrast creating energy within the piece.

As the final application of the design was for a book jacket, it was important that the piece be eye-catching to engage the viewers interest. The vibrant colours are visually attention grabbing and the associations with order suggestive of the topic.

Further Reading

Johnston, W., 2011. Design Friday – The Colour of Gulf Racing. [online] Available at: <http://modular4kc.com/2011/04/22/design-friday-the-color-of-gulf-racing/> [Accessed 4th January 2012].


1. Douma, M., 2006. Colour Vision & Art. [online] Available at: <http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/anuszkiewicz.html> [Accessed 4th January 2012].

I also begun to consider the formation of the final piece. Should the area surrounding the message be of the same form? Or should it take on a slightly different format? I investigated how other current designers were using geometric patterns to occupy areas.

Fetisova, M., 2008. 03. [online] Available at: <http://www.behance.net/resq_> [Accessed 6th December 2011].

The above Maria Fetisova pieces were interesting for development. I made several attempts at forming overlapping pieces such as (a) and (b) however these seemed to lose the strict geometric nature which I was aiming for. I enjoy the variation used in (c), and the seemingly random placement of the components. Within my final piece I wish the size of the components to appear random in this manner, I had considered using a random number generator for the lengths to ensure they were completely random, however this became increasingly difficult to integrate and I chose instead to draw as randomly as humanly possible.

Looking at the Maria Fetisova pieces, which are certainly aesthetically pleasing, I can’t help but to question if the increasing use of available software packages isn’t leading us to an inevitable design block. Where the software encourages a style of design, at what point do we need to break completely from this? I shall investigate the use of available software in a later post. [now available – Digital Technique]

Following investigation into possible design based precedent I decided to further explore physical precedent. Having investigated the Science Museum identity branding by Johnson Banks as a current influence, I chose to visit the Museum and consider the construction of circuit boards in reality.

Anon, n.d. The Science Museum Exterior. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.thetraveleditor.com/users/3374/pictures/6049/photo-s1-3.jpg> [Accessed 6th December 2011].

I often find it easier to engage with a subject matter if I am able to see the physical object. In this instance I wanted to investigate circuit boards, so it seemed appropriate to view them throughout their history. I believed by visiting the Science Museum I would be able to visualise better the direction I wanted the project to take along with having a greater understanding of how the object worked that I was about to involve in my own work.

An area of the Museum is dedicated to computing technology, and within that there is an exhibition based on Integrated Circuits. As the exhibition explains, prior to integrated circuits connections were made via transistors or valves. The invention of the integrated circuit board removed the requirement to mount individual components on the board. Large scale production of these integrated circuits resulted in change in the computing world.

Smith, N., 2011. The Science Museum: Pioneer Ace Computer. [photograph].

The Pioneer Ace changed the world of computing upon its release in 1950, however it did not utilise the integrated circuit technology.

Smith, N., 2011. The Science Museum: Integrated Circuit Board. [photograph].

Unfortunately the images I was able to take are of poor quality owing to the museums photographic restrictions.

Smith, N., 2011. The Science Museum: 30 Channel Regenerative Repeater. [photograph].

Science Museum, 2004. Atlas Circuit Board. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/images/object_images/535×535/10303417.jpg> [Accessed 6th December 2011].

The trip itself was interesting, it helped me engage further with the subject matter. I enjoy the patterns which can be seen on the circuity and the development from transistor to integrated circuit boards. The more regimented nature of the integrated boards is something I will develop with further. Having the understand of the physical connections required in circuitry I believe would help my practical assignment.

Following the initial investigation and during the subsequent development into cryptic typography, I again researched precedent from other current designers.

The connection between the primary sketches and circuit boards became apparent; leading to an investigation into pieces utilising the nature of circuit boards.

I was interested to see the use of circuit boards by other designers. One example, Budibudz “Circuit Board” font utilised the connecting elements of a circuit board to form letters.

Budibudz, 2010. Circuit Board Font. [online] Available at: <http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2010/081/7/2/circuit_board___font_by_budibudz.jpg> [Accessed 6th December 2011].

Here the use of the circuit board is very literal, Budibudz has used the effects available in Illustrator to create a realism with each element of the typeface. I do not wish to recreate this representation style of a circuit board, however it is interesting to compare to the work of other designers. Each letterform is instantly recognisable as assembled from circuit board components, however I find the spacing between each component makes the letters themselves unappealing if used as a typeface to form a word or sentence. Therefore for my own development I wish to ensure I include the following;

– Smaller components to ‘break’ each letterform into smaller geometric elements

– Larger spacing between the components to prevent the piece looking compressed and disproportionate with repetitive use of the letters and components

In order to know where you’re going, you must first know where you came from.1

While researching the historical precedent for the practical assignment a common debate was arising; the importance of graphic design history, and not only to students but to the entire practice.

I have always approached design alongside a historical background, throughout my undergraduate I was taught in this manner and it is something I will maintain with the MA.

To quote Philip Meggs, late author of “The History of Graphic Design”;

I’ve always believed the purpose of teaching design history is to strengthen studio education and professional practice.2

Learning the historical context associated with any discipline is essential, I agree with Meggs on this. Without sufficient background knowledge it is difficult to know where to progress. Personally I find the context and work behind an idea interesting, the reason I prefer to look at sketches opposed to the finished piece.

Similarly Craig Oldham in a question and answer session with Eye Magazine identifies the importance of graphic design history within his own practice before expanding on the necessity for design students.3

Back in the spring of 1992, Bridget Wilkins questions the importance of graphic design history, taking an opposing standpoint to Meggs and Oldham.

Why do we need it, and do we even need it?4

Wilkins does raise some important and interesting points. She identifies the old fashioned approaches to graphic design history as lacking, claiming their linear fashion often neglects core issues.5

Wilkins’ Eye Magazine article is relevant into the failure of communication associated with graphic design history. She partially blames the available exhibition of graphic design, claiming that it is lacking in comparison to the other, predominantly more tactile disciplines and therefore neglected in a museum or gallery context.6

Wilkins also identifies that if we were to explain why something looks the way it does opposed to what it looks like we might have a better chance of engaging audiences in graphic design history.

Within an article for the AIGA, Michael Golec previously supported Wilkins, suggesting that we are neglecting further audiences for graphic design history, beyond that of the graphic design student. I believe Golec and Wilkins have identified a problem which not only affects graphic design but other design related disciplines. For the audiences of the practical aspect of graphic design, it is difficult to understand why a designer may operate in a particular way if they are not aware of the historical content. Leading back to the abundance of bad design accepted, even appreciated by clients.

Golec, M. J., 2004. The History of Graphic Design and its Audiences. [online] Available at: <http://www.aiga.org/the-history-of-graphic-design-and-its-audiences/> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

Finally Oldham believes we are just not educating deep enough. He states;

“I don’t think there is enough design history taught in design education. And what is taught tends to be glossed over. I worry that a designer may know the names of David Carson, Neville Brody and Stefan Sagmeister, however I think they’d struggle to recognise Muller-Brockmann, Piet Zwart and Jan Tschichold. They are probably even less familiar with designers such as Brownjohn, Glaser, Lubalin and Crouwel.”7

Looking at this list I completely agree. I can easily visualise the work of Carson, Brody and Sagmeister, I can also manage Müller-Brockmann, Zwart and Tschichold but I will be researching into Brownjohn and Crouwel following this post!

In conclusion; graphic design history does have a valid purpose in graphic design practice.

It is important to establish a basis from which to build your practical skills, however it is important to ensure you do not stifle creativity by over prescribed historical teaching.

Glaser, M., 1976. I Heart NY Concept Sketch. [electronic print] Available at: <http://wwwimg.bbc.co.uk/programmes/i/512xn/e1e1f2be74af8775851d843aad0ab77186f62d19.jpg> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

Glaser, M., 1977. I Heart NY Campaign. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/images/episode/b00yb2v8_640_360.jpg> [Accessed 5th December 2011]

Further Reading

Charchar, A., 2010. Good Designers Learn From History. [online] Available at: <http://retinart.net/graphic-design/good-designers-learn-from-history/> [Accessed 5th December 2011].


1. Anon, n.d. cited in Anon, 2011. Interview with Sourdough Slim. [online] Available at: <http://westernfolklifecenter.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/interview-with-sourdough-slim/> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

2. Meggs, P., n.d. cited in Golec, M. J., 2004. The History of Graphic Design and its Audiences. [online] Available at: <http://www.aiga.org/the-history-of-graphic-design-and-its-audiences/> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

3. Oldham, C., 2008. Craig Oldham, Eye Magazine, [online] Available at: <http://www.eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=159&oid=435> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

4. Wilkins, B., 1992. No More Heroes. Eye Magazine, [online] Available at: <http://www.eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=35&oid=175> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

5. Wilkins, B., 1992. No More Heroes. Eye Magazine, [online] Available at: <http://www.eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=35&oid=175> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

6. Wilkins, B., 1992. No More Heroes. Eye Magazine, [online] Available at: <http://www.eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=35&oid=175> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

7. Oldham, C., 2008. Craig Oldham, Eye Magazine, [online] Available at: <http://www.eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=159&oid=435> [Accessed 5th December 2011].

Following the initial geometric-based investigations it was necessary to consult historical precedent before progressing further. Naturally, as for any geometric piece, roots can be found in Suprematism and the combination of geometric forms. Initiated in Russia, 1913 by Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism developed, nominally a combination of shape and often vibrant colours.1 A personal favourite is Suprema 2, completed in 1917 depicting a combination of rectilinear shapes against a circle and organic form.

Anon, n.d. Suprema 2. [electronic print] Available at: <http://ardor.net/artlia/content/m/malevich/suprema2.jpg> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Work from the De Stijl movement can also be seen to inform the final piece. The strict geometric grid of Mondrian’s compositions are echoed in the strict grid utilised for development of the final image.

Anon, n.d. Piet Mondrian – Composition in Red, Yellow, Blue and Black. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.proprofs.com/flashcards/upload/q7671972.jpg> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Further influence is taken from the Cubists, as with the below Braque example. The deciphering of the image necessary with these pieces is echoed in the work. It is not instantly recognisable as the harp and violin, however it is still there and legible with concentration.

Anon, n.d. Georges Braque – Still Life with Harp and Violin. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=g&p=c&a=p&ID=939> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Finally architectural precedent has influenced the final piece. Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Centre, with its strict construction grid and overlapping elements, following their route around the external of the building, framing the central core informs the final piece, with the surrounding elements of the letters.

Michiel, 2010. Pompidou Centre – Front. [electronic print] Available at: <http://shadowfire.nl/pages/db21239f/Paris-2010/Centre-Georges-Pompidou-panorama> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Anon, n.d. Pompidou Centre – Rear. [electronic print] Available at: <http://gallery.tc.dk/d/5584-3/P8230099_Back_of_Pompidou_center.jpg> [Accessed 18th December 2011].


1. Tate Collection, 2011. Suprematism. [online] Available at: <http://www.tate.org.uk/collections/glossary/definition.jsp?entryId=291> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Following the development with the letter ‘T’ it was decided to progress to using the word geometry and using a more complex grid.

The font Apple Gothic was used due to its simple geometric forms, simple descenders and easy manipulation. The descender of the character ‘g’ was extended to drop below that of the ‘y’, signifying its importance. The ‘m’ was then connected to the ‘g’, retaining even spacing allowing the ‘o’ in ‘geo’ and the ‘e’ in ‘metry’ to align.

For development here only half the word, Geo-Me was utilised, due to the time consuming nature of the task. The development of the geometric piece from the simple elements aligning to a strict grid  again echoes the exterior of the Pompidou Centre.

Investigations were undertaken as to the correct representation of geometry, and it was decided the outlined bars were more effective, however the composition as a whole was failing to be successful. The geometry resembled a pattern, therefore the next step was to return to a more effective graphic utilising various elements as demonstrated by the below sketch.

Following the initial sketches the simplest of these was then transferred into illustrator.

Here one can instantly see the connection with Piet Mondrian’s compositions, which I investigated for research prior to further development. The regimented grid dividing between the larger square elements is greatly reminiscent of Mondrian’s work.

Several methods were utilised to identify the hidden letter, either through a change in line-weight or opacity seemed to be the most successful.

However I became increasingly unhappy with this composition. This incredibly simple form had lost the beauty of the hand drawn pieces when converted into a collection of clinical squares, circles and rectangles.

In order to progress away from this other designers were consulted as well as historical and modern precedent. Notably architectural precedent in the form of the Pompidou Centre and Archigram were utilised to form a less rectilinear approach.

The idea continued to develop to forming letters from geometric shapes in order to create a word. From this experimentation begun with ‘hiding’ the word amongst further elements of the geometric design. This became quite challenging and time consuming. It was interesting to gauge the reaction of others to the legibility of the word or letter. It was deemed important to ensure the word was legible enough to be recognisable, however hidden enough to be of interest to the viewer to investigate.

Hidden T

Hidden Y

Following my investigations into modern geometric precedent, I decided the next step was to begin experimenting with the relationship of geometry and type, therefore the use of geometry within letter forms.

As previously detailed, I prefer to work in a manner by which I assess the previous foundation for my experimentation to ensure I can build upon the discoveries of other designers and also prevent repetition.

Firstly using the primary geometric shapes (circle, square and triangle) a task was undertaken to create each letter form using only these shapes. I set myself this task to investigate the legibility of letterforms and the scope for geometric letters using a strict set of rules.

This combination of geometric shapes naturally takes precedent from the Bauhaus [as further explained in Influences – Geometric Type II] and I also intended to create a complimentary piece to that of Wete’s Roke 1984, however unlike Wete conforming to strict rules in order and focussing on the geometric shapes themselves opposed to the transformations.

Initially a physical model was utilised, formed from translucent plastic in order to view the overlapping forms.

This was then transferred into a digital format.

Letter forms were created from overlapping translucent equally sized shapes. Two shapes were required to create each letter form, the shapes may be the same however the colour may not in order to retain the required contrast.

The end result was one of abstract letter forms, similar to the Science Museum Logo they are initially difficult to read. This explored the possibility of forming letters from the minimum possible geometric shapes.

I was interested in the idea of forming letter forms from the smallest geometric shapes. Something I would like to investigate within my final piece, the possibility of break letters down, or forming them from the smallest, simplest components.

Following this letters formed from a variety of different sized primary geometric elements were investigated. Influenced again by the Bauhaus approach to utilising simple geometric forms to create characters sets and the previously mentioned Lego am and Lego pm project. Using a variety of techniques and rules to experiment it was interesting to observe how letter forms can be seen in abstract shapes.

Following these primary investigations I decided I wanted to progress in the direction of forming a complete word from smaller geometric shapes, following more complex rules than those initially investigated here.