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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Feb 15 / Nicole Eley

notes on The Armature, the Grid, and Grid System by DG Crisp

  • Armatures underly and bind elements through deliberate but fairly random placement ruled by “intuitively” divided space” (Crisp 1)
  • Commercial artists of the 19th and 20th century structured advertisements and posters using armatures, and it remains a useful approach today.” (Crisp 1)
  • Grids underlie and bind elements but with structural in addition to visual rules: margins, gutters, columns, etc. They are mechanical and precise.
  • abstracting typography began with Constructivism, DaDa and De Stijl artists and designers, and was refined by Bauhaus designers
  • the grid system was first mentioned by Swiss designer “Josef Müller-Brockmann, who published a brief account of his theory of organizing space entitled The Grid System as an Aid in the Design of Advertisements, Catalogues, Exhibitions, which served as prelude to Grid Systems in Graphic Design, published in German and English in 1981. (Crisp, 2)”
  • Today columnar standards in publishing software are residual evidence of this idea though in Swiss typographic terms columns aren’t modules exactly because the equal, repeating parts, are yet reducible to text lines.” (Crisp 1)
  • ” ‘working with the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity. the use of the grid system implies: the will to systematize, to clarify; the will to penetrate to the essentials, to concentrate;
    • the will to cultivate objectivity instead of subjectivity;
    • the will to rationalize the creative and technical production processes;
    • the will to integrate elements of color, form and material;
    • the will to achieve architectural dominion over surface and space;
    • the will to adopt a positive, forward-looking attitude;
    • the recognition of the importance of education and the effect of work devised in a constructive and creative spirit.’ Müller-Brockmann, p.10 (Crisp 2)”

To my understanding, grid systems refer to modular grids. A grid system is made of symmetrical modules, as is a modular grid.  When the author refers to grids, she means asymmetrical grids/grids with modules of varying sizes. Armatures are based off ‘eye-balling’ the placement of elements in a design.