What Do You Consider Good Design?

By LaurenMarie

Last time we talked about surrounding yourself with design (good or bad!) in order to improve your sense of design and how it’s important to notice the details that makes a design good or bad.

It seems that it would be a wise idea to have a collection of good design to study and learn from. Do you have a folder or file that you keep outstanding design in? I do! I don’t put as much into it as I would like to, but here are a few of my favorite pieces and why I like them.

Business CardThere is one glaring problem with this first piece: I’m not sure what the company name is! Is it I (as in G, H, I, J, K, etc), or is it 1 (as in 1, 2, 3, etc)? Well, at any rate, I know they serve coffee, drinks and food, so I guess that’s good. The biggest reason I like this business card is because of the way they wrote the phone and fax numbers. They are presented in the way that we say them: the area code, first three digits (prefix) and the last four numbers. I think it would make it easy to dial and not lose your place while looking back and forth between the phone and the card. It also seems like a very trendy place to be. I get that feeling from the font. I also like that the card uses a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal one; that is different from the norm.

Cirque du Soleil Desktop

This is a Cirque du Soleil desktop. I like the composition in this one, particularly the sense of direction. In western cultures, we read from left to right, top to bottom, so naturally we start in the upper left hand corner. There is a nice open space there to ease the viewer into the layout. Then we come across, moving to the right and we find the logo. We hit the parade of men walking down to the text (the two circles are there just in case your eye tries to wander a little too far, they push you back up into the text). We finish reading the text and make our way over to the pictures. What a nice little trip! The photos also serve to anchor the layout and give it a little weight at the bottom so it feels like it’s finished. We could, however, continue up to the line of men and back through the piece.

Lumiere Condo Brochure

I really like Cody Curley’s work. This particular page is a brochure he did for Lumiere Condos. I like this page in particular because it has a very calm feeling. Cody provided ample room around the text for our eyes to rest and the space also serves to emphasize the writing. It feels very sophisticated; it doesn’t need a lot of in-your-face design to make its point. The juxtaposition of the elements in the photo (round spoon, square sugar, round cups) he chose for this layout is also pleasant, orderly and sophisticated.

IBM Annual Report 2003

Annual reports from high end companies, like this one from IMB in 2003, provide many samples of good design. Here is a neat example of the whole composition being one complete piece. There is no separation of text and photo; the text is integrated into and designed to be a part of the image. I enjoy the typography on this page, too. The designers thought about what was important and emphasized that with color, size and style (regular, italic, bold, small caps).

Online Secret Logo

I know Toon from the Estetica Design Forum that I am a part of (which is a great place to discuss and learn about design, by the way). He is an excellent logo designer and Online Secret is one of my favorite logos of his. Toon incorporated the idea of a secret into this logo quite effectively. The beautiful round serif that he used for the text also lends a sense of suave and upscale atmosphere. I don’t know anything about what this client wanted, but that’s what I get from the final result and I can mimic these aspects in a design where I do know what a client is looking for.


Of course we can’t forget about web design among all this print stuff, and for that I turn to Jon Tan‘s site. In comparison with many other sites out there, Jon has managed to set himself a part with his sexy use of typography (hey, how would you describe it?). In his About section, he states that “the design grew out of thoughts on Western type and print versus Chinese typography and calligraphy.” I like the clean, no-nonsense layout he presents and how he has found ways to make the hierarchy work almost entirely through typography alone. The sparse use of color also allows its use to make quite a statement; it really stands out when its present.

So those are some samples from my collection of design. What do you think? Want to share some of your favorite designs and tell us about them and what you’ve learned from them?