| October 6, 2010 8:44 pm

Elegant-Book-page1Note: The regular programming of this website has been interrupted due to a need to finish the Open Source Writing book. It will resume once I have sent a draft to my editor/publisher.  They have been very patient and I have been irresponsible.  And though I have been working like a banshee for a month now, a looming deadline has me approaching hysterics.

With one of the deadlines for the Open Source Writing book looming in just over 9 days, I’ve been deeply immersed in it.  Other than sleeping, sanity breaks (usually which are spent by going to the gym) and eating, it’s the only thing I’ve been working on.

Whenever I get immersed this deep into a project, I lose all semblance of objectivity.  Sometimes this is good, because it lets me try out new ideas and combinations that I wouldn’t otherwise consider.

Most of the time, however, it is not.  I become ridiculously attached to things that don’t matter and generally become neurotic.  This neurosis usually manifests in the form of a need for external validation.

(Since my insecurities have absolutely nothing to do with anything, I should probably come to the point.)

Formal Versus Modern Design Examples

Amongst the loads of wonderful stuff I’ve been perusing, I found a book with a marvelous comparison of different design styles.  (Which, really, shall be a whole blog post on its own.)  While reviewing this book and the various samples, I’ve fallen in love with a style known as “Formalism.”

As described, Formalism is a mash up of the Swiss/Modern school (which places an emphasis on negative space and the removal of unnecessary decoration) and the controlled use of decorative elements.  It’s cool, calculated and controlled.  But not extreme or brutal.  (Think Classical, which was a response to Baroque rather than Brutalism, which was a response to … I’m not sure, really.) So while, it adopts the tenants of minimalism, it also encourages decoration and free-swinging fun where appropriate, but doesn’t go to decorative extremes like Grunge or Collage have been known to do.Elegant-Book-page2-3

A Formal design will often utilize Baroque, Renaissance or Romantic letterforms and encourage you to make creative use of space.  The examples in the book (drawn from humanist texts, museum catalogs, and others) are simply amazing.  I became so inspired, I even tried my own hand at a few layouts.  They aren’t anything special, but they do showcase a few of the techniques.  The example layouts were created in Scribus using the  Linux Libertine (chapter headings and body text) and Linux Biolinium typefaces (reference material).

(You can download a PDF copy here.)

On a completely unrelated side note, I think that Linux Libertine might  be my favorite open source type.  My all time favorite is still Minion, because it’s just awesome.Elegant-Book-page4-5

I particularly appreciate how a more formal design contrasts against Modernism and its tyrannical little brother, Minimalism.  It’s more permissive, sophisticated and refined.  It’s the sort of design style I’d want to spend an evening with.  More French than Puritan.  Where “what you see” isn’t “all you get”.

(And with those sentiments shared, it’s time to get back to work.)


4 Responses to “Formal Versus Modern Design”

Giorgio wrote a comment on November 28, 2011

Hi rob! Thank you for your posts!
I really linke the template of your “Elegant Book”. What do you say in sharing the scribus code?
I’m writing a photo book and maybe this can be a starting point for a nice layout (I’m new in scribus).
If you want to contact me privatly here is my email
Best Regards

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on November 30, 2011

Hi Giorgio,

Thanks for the kind comment about “Elegant Book.” I would be happy to share the code. For right now, I’ll do it privately through email. (The template isn’t quite ready to post publicly.)

I actually have several others that I’ve been working on for the Open Source Writing book. When I get that finished and they’ve all been cleared, I’ll post the whole lot publicly. Wonderful to hear about your photo book, and I’m honored that you like my layout enough to use it as a template. When I get in touch privately, I’ll make arrangements to transfer the code.



Giorgio wrote a comment on November 30, 2011

hi rob, thank you for your reply.
I tough you were able to see my e mail address. I don’t find yours.
You can send me what you find interesting here: giorgio.colangelo@gmai.com
Of course I will use the code with creative commons licence that you wish.
Best Regards

Giorgio wrote a comment on December 1, 2011

I previously wrote a wrong email address. The correct one is giorgio.colangelo@gmail.com.

I really appreciate If you could send me also some other example of layout from which I can work with, some page for example of the Libre of graphics or other documents that you want.

Thank you rob.


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