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  • Writer's pictureBrett Gifford

Breaking the Mold: Navigating Design's Rules for Bold Innovation

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

In design, there’s a delicate dance between knowing the rules and daring to step beyond them. This isn’t just about rebelling for the sake of it; it’s about understanding the fundamentals deeply enough to see when breaking away could lead to something more impactful, more resonant. As a designer who’s navigated both the realms of sticking to the script and occasionally tearing it up, I’ve come to realize the power of this balance.



The rulebook of design, with its focus on balance, contrast, and alignment, is essential. It’s like learning the grammar of a language before trying to write poetry. These principles guide us in creating designs that are cohesive and comprehensible. But then, there’s this interesting juncture where you know the rules well enough to start bending them. That’s where design stops being just about visuals and starts being about voice, about saying something in a way that hasn’t been said before.


Take color, for example. We all know the color wheel, the complementary colors, the tried-and-tested palettes. But what happens when you throw in a shade that ‘shouldn’t’ work? Or use a palette that’s completely unorthodox? That’s where you start seeing reactions, where your work starts sticking in people’s minds. It’s not just about being different; it’s about being thoughtfully different. The same goes for typography – everyone loves a clean sans-serif these days, but what if you went for something more daring, more expressive? Or layout – the grid system is great, but there’s a whole world beyond it waiting to be explored.


In my own experience, the projects where I took a step into the less-trodden path are the ones I remember most. They’re the ones where the process was a journey of discovery – for both me and the audience. Sure, not every risk paid off, but even the missteps were valuable. They taught me more about the 'why' of design than any textbook could. It's in these experiments where you find your voice as a designer, where you learn how to communicate not just with visuals but with emotions and ideas.


But let’s be clear – going bold in design is not about throwing caution to the wind. It’s a calculated move. It’s knowing that this particular font, this specific color, this layout choice is going to turn heads, maybe even raise eyebrows, but ultimately create a connection. It’s about crafting a narrative that’s both familiar and refreshingly new.


And yes, sometimes this approach can be polarizing. You might find some people who don’t get it, who prefer the safety of the familiar. But the ones who do get it, who resonate with your daring choices, they’re the audience you’re reaching out to. They’re the ones who will see your work and think, “This, this is something different.”


So, what’s the takeaway from all this? It’s that design is more than just aesthetics. It’s communication. It’s expression. And sometimes, the most eloquent expression requires you to step off the beaten path, to break a few rules. Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. That’s where you’ll find the essence of bold design – in the spaces where you dared to step differently.

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