Using The Grid For Structure And Appearance

The grid can be used as both a design principle and a design element. When used as a principle of design the grid organizes all the other components of a composition. It is the underlying matrix that provides order, measurement and the “visual glue” that holds everything together.

design principle element, the grid

In the Copenhagen restaurant Llama, designers Lars Larsen and Jakob Lange have used the grid as an organizer. The entire restaurant is a collection of right angled, block-like forms and open spaces that function as a three-dimensional grid. Individual components such as the glass cube showcase, the i-beam support columns, and the tables/counters respond to the lines of this original grid and subdivide the space some more. As a final touch the wall and floor tiles are arranged in yet another uniform grid pattern. With grids upon grids upon grids, the entire space seems orderly and stable even though it contains a wide assortment of patterns and materials.

grid and hair design

Sometimes the grid is used purely as a design element, not for the structure it provides but just for the qualities of its appearance. In this photo you can see the work of X-PRESION, a hair coloring and research salon in Madrid. Here the geometric, grid-based highlights of color bring a contemporary, digital, pixilated look to a new hairstyle.

Ned Smith art print

In this print by English interior designer and visual artist Nick Smith, you can see the grid being used for both its structural/organizational qualities and its purely visual properties. 380 individual color samples are arranged in a severe grid pattern. When viewed as one whole image the color samples seem like digital pixels representing a famous self-portrait by the 19th century painter Vincent Van Gogh. Smith’s artwork is captivating because its grid is so mechanical and pedestrian while the image it contains is so romantic and significant in Western art history. Two totally opposing attitudes coexisting simultaneously in one magical piece.

Here is a link to learn more about the Llama restaurant in Copenhagen…

The website has an article about X-PRESION and their pixel inspired hairstyles…

This is a link to Nick Smith’s web page…

You can read more about the grid in chapter ten of our book…

Design: A Beginner’s Handbook

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