Foundations: Revisiting “Contrast and Meaning”

It's been about a year now since Andy Rutledge shared this simple yet fundamental article on leveraging contrast within our designs. In the article, he says:
Design is largely an exercise in creating or suggesting contrasts, which are used to define hierarchy, manipulate certain widely understood relationships, and exploit context to enhance or redefine those relationships … all in an effort to convey meaning. Contrast is important because the meaningful essence of any thing is defined by its value, properties, or quality relative to something else. That’s right: nothing has much meaning by itself, which is one reason why design is important. The function of contrast in defining meaning can be explained by comparing fundamental opposites: dark/light, soft/hard, fast/slow. Examples like these are useful because everyone understands the extremes they imply, but while there are extremes, there are no absolutes. The values are merely relative.
Just a simple reminder that, in many cases, the effectiveness of a good design can often be traced back to a recognition and understanding of the basics.

Peyton is a design director who leads strategic design and branding for clients such as The American Legacy Foundation, Revolv, Supercell, and Duke University.

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