Other posts related to formalism

 | 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.)