Good Design Is Crap
by Rachel Getsinger
The Design Department at Pivot holds a philosophy close to our hearts. That is the philosophy of C.R.A.P. — C.R.A.P. stands for the principles of design, Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity, and can be found in all made things. Every decision a designer makes falls within one of these categories and a good design expresses each of these principles intentionally. If a piece feels unbalanced or not quite right there is a good chance one of these four categories is out of whack.
Contrast is how designers use opposites to express hierarchy and create visual interest, not to mention legibility. In Figure 1.0 we weren’t only concerned about the contrast on the silhouette of the musician and relating headline, but also creating contrast between Audix and the rest of the ads in their industry. The music Industry is rife with black on black low contrast ads with reversed out type and a single pop of color… BORING. Our answer was to come out of the gate with color ablaze and through telling story and by visually expressing the feeling of the product we create a contrasting look for Audix.
Repetition is the way we create rhythm and unity within a design. Repetition is usually found at the seat of the brand as it is what is used to maintain consistency. Designers also use repetition to create a visual rhythm. Figure 2.0 uses repeated type to create a visual texture.
Alignment can be described as the way elements relate to each other on a page or in space. We use alignment in ads to create balance and to draw the eye to pertinent information, like hands or eyes pointing or looking a certain way. A good way to find alignment is to draw a line from one object to another, or the edge of an object to another. In the figure below we use the negative space within the tools to align the type to hold the eye in the place where we have framed the message.
Designers use proximity to create relationship between elements on a page. When an object is close to another it indicates they relate to each other in some way. Emphasis and Tension can also be created with Proximity. In Figure 4.0 we physically laid out the type to visually state the message. Without a strong sense of proximity these words would have less relation to each other and would not be as powerful.
The principles of C.R.A.P. are universal. They hold just as much weight in music, fine art, and even life. Now that you hold the keys to design, go forth and critique and enjoy all made things!