Who Inspires us?
As professional creatives, we are constantly on a search to help inspire our work. The entire Elliott Design team takes a moment to share their favorite designers and elaborate on how they have inspired us.
When I was a student, I was introduced to a wide variety of art and design. I spent 4 solid years being inspired and challenged. While it would be impossible to narrow in on which artist and designer has inspired me the most, I can confidently say Josef Müller-Brockmann is high on the list. I was first introduced to Müller-Brockmann’s work in a typography course. My professor was discussing Helvetica, and it’s predecessor Akzidenz-Grotesk and showing the class examples. As an example, we looked at several posters from a swiss graphic designer.
“[Design] is an art that requires practice.”
Immediately I was drawn in. What struck me first, was how interesting these designs were with the limited use of color and without relyiong photography. Josef Müller-Brockmann had a very controlled aesthetic that I immediately fell in love with. It doesn’t rely on images to create an interesting composition. Instead, the design uses typography and shapes to generate dynamic play in static mediums.
Diving into his technique I learned of the grid system that Müller-Brockmann uses. I still use it to this day in my work, and I advocate for all designers to use some sort of grid. Its a great way to organize alot of information and create interesting forms out of plain text.
Josef Müller-Brockmann’s simplicity is something I strive for in my design. I think he creates very interesting compositions without using any crutches.
When I am inspired by a design or a work of art online I will often follow a trail of links to find out what else that person has worked on, but the name of the artist or designer doesn’t usually stick in my mind. Typically the object of inspiration is what I remember most, which is definitely the case when I encountered Chip Kidd.
I first came across Chip Kidd’s work with a book titled Batmanga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan. Immediately the book stood out on the self at Borders because of it’s gigantic size and multi-textured design. What I really liked about the book was that the graphic design aesthetic carried over from the cover design to the inside of the book. The layout of each page draws attention to the images while also keeping it very balanced to not overlook the text. He helped me realize that everything inside and out of a book was designed and that I can draw inspiration from the novels and comic books I read. Even as I design the layout of a page for the web I think about some of the layout choices I have seen in books and magazines. Designing for the computer screen and designing for the printed page take two completely different sets of choices but when one can influence the other I think the design benefits.
Now that I know who Chip Kidd is (how could you forget a name like that) I find myself looking to the credit section of a book only to find that he, in fact, designed it as well. It seems like I’m seeing his name more and more on the popular culture books that I’m interested in reading. His most famous design was the cover art for the Jurassic Park novel which was so effective that it was used for the movie poster, the logo in the movie, and other collateral material for the Jurassic Park series.
”I’m very much against the idea that the cover will sell the book. Marketing departments of publishing houses tend to latch onto this concept and they can’t let go. But it’s about whether the book itself really connects with the public, and the cover is only a small part of that.”
This quote really caught my attention because it refers to designs that are usable and not ones that are simply pretty to look at. This is something I strive for as I design. I believe that a good design is more of a catalyst than an end point, which is something that Chip Kidd has helped me to realize.
This blog was hard to write, there are so many amazing designers that have influenced me how could I narrow it down to just one? So I decided to focus on who has directly influenced me the most – and I almost begrudgingly had to settle on Jonathan Ive, the senior industrial designer at Apple. I say ‘begrudgingly’ because I don’t want the stigma of the Apple-lovers category to taint the importance and relevance of Jonathan Ive’s work. While Apple products have plenty of ‘cool’ features and cutting edge technologies, it’s actually the physical design of the devises that make me ‘drink the Koolaid’.
Ive’s philosophy on design is simply, simplicity. Design the best you can, then review it, and remove everything that’s not necessary. I love design that has reason and purpose, and Ive’s design embodies that to the core. I constantly find myself returning to Apple’s industrial design. The iPhone, iPad, Laptops, Computers, iPods, anything you hold from Apple feels, looks, and responds like art. I find myself routinely striving to create design that has that same emotional, and visceral response. If returning to a website actually makes you feel something, like a sense of relief due to the beauty and order of it, then I’ve accomplished great design.
If you’re not a designer, you may not know Paul Rand by name, but you’ve seen his work. He’s developed logos for IBM (1956), Westinghouse(1960), UPS (1961), the American Broadcasting Company (1962) that are either the same today, or close evolutions of his original creations. What I love about Rand’s work is the thought behind the design. They say so much, with so little. The only way this can be accomplished is by defining and understanding the problem that the client or company faces, and presenting a solution to that problem. His approach was that of a problem solver, and the art came as the end result.
So many designers have tried to mimic his style, but to truly capture the essence of Paul Rand you have to mimic his process, not his end product. The true genius of Paul Rand’s design proves itself in its longevity. To design something that can span culture, prejudice, status, and half-a-century is truly an inspiration.
Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.
- Paul Rand
Larry Page and Sergey Brin
These two guys are none other than the founders of Google. Larry and Sergey met at Stanford University in the summer of 1995 and within a year begin collaborating on a search engine called BackRub. The following year, 1997, BackRub is given a new name: Google. For over a year and a half, Google runs on Stanford’s server with the domain name google.stanford.edu
Google revolutionized the way search engines work. At a time when search engines bombarded their users with clutter and pop-ups, Google had a clean and sleek look. Google also had more accurate results. Search engines like Alta Vista, Excite and Lycos rendered results based solely on textual keywords. This means they didn’t account for the subject matter of the page, but rather how many times those keywords appeared. This method makes it more difficult for official websites to score higher on the results page and also difficult to differentiate words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. For example, “hard rock” and “hard drive” both have the word ”hard” but are very different subjects. Google uses this technique mixed with other techniques to ensure the relevance of your search results.
Another method being what types of other pages link to a website, or link analysis algorithms, to order websites. Google also gives you personalized results based on your web history and location, which is why if you type in “Pizza Hut” Google gives you a map of the location nearest to you. These algorithms are updated on a weekly basis.
< image What google did for my birthday this year:
Another reason why Google is my favorite, wouldn’t you love it if your office looked like this:
Or if you had a pool table and a hand chair:
Or if you had a slide:
More images of Google’s headquarters here
From my developer side, Google inspires me because of the changes they have made the the way the internet works. I love Google so much that I think we should officially change the spelling of the number “Googol” to Google. In case you don’t know a Googol is a 1 followed by 100 zeros, but I guess you could have just Googled it. They also fund projects is to develop a viable plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can attain 100 mpg. Who wouldn’t love that?