Making and Breaking the Grid Book Review

Making and Breaking the Grid Book CoverIt’s impossible to overlook grid based layouts when it comes to Web design. On that note, it’s impossible to avoid in nearly any modern medium of design. Grid-based design, from what I can see, falls into a few categories to the casual observer: clean & organized, haphazard & artsy, or unrecognized. Many times, a grid-based design can be presented to someone and the grid which organizes each element on the page never jumps out as being done on purpose.While I have no formal education in design (graphic or otherwise) I do have a strong interest. I try to read as much as I can in an effort to self-educate myself on the subject. The latest piece I’ve completed is Making and Breaking the Grid, A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara.

For designers working in every medium, layout is arguably the most basic, and the most important, element. Effective layout is essential to communication and enables the end user to not only be drawn in with an innovative design but to digest information easily. Just as arguable is the importance of pushing boundaries and breaking rules, and the urge among designers to violate rational structures has sparked a continuing debate for more than fifty years. Often this inclination is at the expense of clarity, but intuitive compositional approaches have generated some of the most interesting and exciting graphic design ever created.

Making and Breaking the Grid is a comprehensive layout design workshop that assumes that in order to effectively break the rules of grid-based design, one must first understand those rules and see them applied to real-world projects.

It’s important to keep in mind this intention of being a workshop when you read the book, as that’s exactly what you get. Each section is broken up into (roughly) two parts: informative introduction followed by real world examples. This structure makes the book not only a good learning source, but also a great reference to keep on your bookshelf. There is an immense number of examples which are notarized and explained very well.

The book is divided into two separate sections. The first, Making the Grid, “… exposes the read to the grid’s development as an organizing principle and shows it in action”. The second, Breaking the Grid, “… explores the alternatives: deconstruction of grid-based layouts, spontaneous composition, and organic organizational methods.”

Personal Reaction

I found the book to be a fascinating, in depth look into grid-based design. Where it came from, the various ways to implement, and real-world examples to back it all up. The book itself is quite aesthetically pleasing as well, however there are some points where the grid of the book content itself made for difficult reading. On an additional note, I would have loved to see an analyzation the grid used within the book itself, but that wasn’t available.

Overall, although I can’t validate the information provided in the book, I think it’s a great resource to have on hand. I walked away knowing exponentially more about grid-based design than I had previously known and I would definitely recommend the book to add to your library.