By Peter Vickers
11/03/2016
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The Importance of Nothing

The importance of white space within design.

I’ve had a thought. As random and wonderful as they may sometimes be – this one feels quite interesting – and it’s around language and communication, the importance of white space.

If words are just constructed sound with associated meaning, then the pauses and breaks are as vital to understanding language, that is communicating, as the actual noise is.

If this is true, then the nothing gives context to the something; the space gives definition to the substance.

As designers we create things – we fill pages, posters, websites with ‘stuff’. Type, colour, illustration and image all feature heavily in what we construct and create. Yet, if we apply the above principle to the way we work as designers, then the ‘nothing’ or ‘the blank space’ becomes a tool which carries just as much importance as all the other visualised elements… if not more.

The importance of white space within design.

This may seem an obvious point in principle but it can be hard to appreciate the importance of white space – especially when you’re working within constraints – where white space has to fight its corner against the type, a photo, just a little bit more information.

Space allows a message to sink in; it draws the eye and guides the viewer. Space can be used to make an impact, a statement, to shout or whisper – to inform or leave hanging. Just as typeface communicates tone; colour evokes emotion, and layout bring sense and order – space is a vital tool.

We’ve all watched great public speakers who know when to pause at exactly the right points and for exactly the right times to maximise effect. Well space between words and sentences has a very similar effect when used in a visual context. It explains, gives meaning and allows a message to sink in and resonate. It turns out that nothing is very important indeed – I’d go as far as to say, nothing equals everything!

 


Image from Colin Ross

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