The beauty in simplicity

Less is more“, a phrase from the Robert Browning poem “The Faultless Painter” published in 1855.

In todays society everyone is trying to standout. Now, most people think to stand out you need bright, explosive colours, maybe with some flashing lights and a wacky waving, inflatable arm flailing tube man. Thankfully it’s 2016 and it’s time to get creative and go in the other direction; avoid the busy and wacky designs and scale it back and keep it simple.

Simplicity in design has taken off over the last few years. Although it has been a part of design since the beginning, it is making a strong come-back. By reducing the elements and focusing the energy and focality of the design on one or two elements simplifies not just the design itself but the message you’re trying to get across by eliminating other competitive visual elements. Minimalism can be used on any visual element in design; logos, visuals, typography and colour, often using high contrast and balance. Minimalism is also a timeless technique in design and provides room for future growth of the design.

Simplistic designs are created by using a handful of different techniques, here is a brief explanation of just a few:

– Simplicity: Keep it simple, remember minimalism is all about getting your message across in the most direct and clever way possible. There should be no competition in your design hierarchy and your message should be clear, concise and visually strong.

– Space: Give your design breathing space. Positive and negative space are a fantastic tool to use when creating simplistic designs. Look at the space around your object and see if it can be used to create a visual to accompany your design. 

– Consistency: Use one main design element that backs up your message and use it throughout other branding and design elements. Keeping consistent hierarchy and use a grid system which creates a stronger sense of credibility and readability.

– Colour: Use splashes of colour oppose to large amounts and varieties as it helps highlight certain points of the design and is visually more appealing and not overwhelming on the eye. Colour creates its own type of contrast so make sure you choose your colour/s to suit your theme, message and overall contrast of the image.

– Clever: Get creative and clever with your design, think outside the box. For example: turn a letter in the name into a symbolic element to create an emphasis on the message.

– Contrast and Balance: Minimalism is all about balance and contrast. By using high-contrast designing it helps put your design in the foreground and easily portrays the hierarchy of elements, whilst creating a visually balanced design. Always balance out one object with another and use sizing and colours to emphasise their desired position.

– Iconography: Icons can be used effectively very easily, by reducing the amount of text being used and help users be guided around the design visually. Icons are also universal and are understood by most, so keep your icons recognisable and readable.

– Visualise your type: Type is a key tool in minimalistic designs. Text is the easiest and most direct way to present your message within the design so take advantage of it, create or substitute letters for symbols or add imagery to reflect your message without destroying the readability of the text.

– Get symbolic: Use an aspect of your design and make it symbolic to the message you’re saying. Get creative! Use icons or simple visuals to symbolise your message. 

– What can be removed: When designing and aiming for a minimalistic/simplistic design keep thinking ‘what can be removed’ as you progress in the design and always try and simplify the elements you create and faze out irrelevant information.

Minimalism can be a hard technique to master, as it involves looking outside the box you’re designing within and using less tools of design and more of the space around it. Negative space designs are a good place to start for inspiration in minimal designs as the use of negative space helps you see what can be done with space around the object and using existing elements of the design to emphasise the overall message in the most visually simplistic way possible. 

Here at theroom we use minimalism all-over our designs especially in our annual reports as it cuts through the boring blocks of text and puts the relevant information in a visual form to bring it to the foreground of the design creating strength in the hierarchy of content and balance of the overall design.

Take a look at some of our design examples here as a guide to how we incorporate this as our number one rule when executing our creative projects.