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Decoding Design

Decoding Design:

Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication

a Book review by George M Engel

Check out this Awesome book cover at your nearest book dealer! That was my first thought on seeing this book. First perceptions, right? I just wanted to play with that cover thingie! (The cover has an embedded wheel -- when you turn the orange wheel to the right - symbols are deconstructed in the circles!)

This is a conceptual and innovative book strategy that works. Half the battle is won if the seller can stop your book browsing to concentrate on this one book title. Stop those eyes, right? Is this an interesting book? Heck yeah!

Once you get past the 'Gee Whiz' cover and stop playing with that wheel, you'll find that the book covers visual communication and the use of numbers, forms and symbols in graphic design.

Chapter 2 - Constructing a Logo (enlarge)

Maggie Macnab's book is comprised of eleven Chapters. Chapter Zero (why zero? Read on, Mac Duff) covers: Pattern: Laying the Groundwork for Design; Chapters 1 through 10 are: Wholeness; The Universe of Reflection; The Passageway; Manifestation; Free-Form Life; Structure as Form; The Virgin Number; Infinity Captured; The Peak Experience, and; To the Tenth Power.

Now having Chapter Ten as 'To the Tenth Power' is cool, isn't it? I really liked that touch. Chapter by chapter, I really got mesmerized by her intertwining the logic of numbers and symbology into visual communication and her logic of design.

graphics symbols Sometimes my wife, Arlene the Good, Arlene the Pure says "Shush, let them see for themselves. Stop talking." This may be one of those times. Here's some quick pix of some pages in the book. See for yourself.

After looking at these snapshots, you can see why I really started to get into this book. It's an easy read, considering Maggie touches on Math, Physics and Philosophy, which are all combined in a good Visual Design strategy. One example inparticular which really reached me is a little logo of an egg. To quote Maggie:

page spread
Chapter 5 - The Pentad of Nature

"Which came first?" is the eternal question of form and function. It's the same sort of problem theoretical physicists struggle with trying to distinguish the nature of particle and wave. The more sophisticated the technology, the more elusive the terminology. I finally answered this question in my own mind, at least, in a satisfying way, but it took raising my own chickens and this logo to get there."

Maggies' logo is a great piece of work. Her answer is "The chicken is the egg." WHOA! That's some deep stuff, folks. I guess this kind of tells you a little of the woman we're talking about here. I'm impressed with her rational way of looking at things. (Enjoy this from her web site!)

free form lifeMaggie looks at circles, spirals, squares and triangles as the basis of all visual content, along with numbers, She believes that inspiration, intuition and creativity is the spark that creates good visual design. She thinks that this is a logical and subliminal process of linking all the small bits of information into a whole. Sometimes it's just looking at simple shapes and patterns for it to happen. Then voila, everything fits!

Shelter logo By watching how Maggie constructs and de-constructs logos, you'll get some ideas on the visual design process. If nothing else, after reading this book, you'll look at our world a little differently, seeing the interaction of shapes, forms and functions, with a little awe at nature. Chapter 4 is a Case study of a Logo

Maggie Macnab has been creating Logos and Visual Designs for clients for over 25 years and has owned her own business, Macnab Design since 1981. She is a published author, teacher and lecturer in this business. I'm sure her workshops on visual communications are full, given what I've read in this book. She combined the disciples of Math, Physics and Philosophy and made it all reachable for the common person reading this book. That's not an easy thing to do.

I recommend this book to anyone coming into the Design and Visual Communication field.

George Engel

Maggie coverDecoding Design:
Understanding and Using Symbols
in Visual Communication

by Maggie Macnab
List Price: $35.00 ~ Your Price: $23.10
You Save: $11.90 (34%)
Paperback: 224 pages; Publisher: How; Language: English (Paperback Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.9 x 0.8 inches)


About the author: George Engel has been a computer guru probably longer than he will admit -- as a computer expert, he authored The Naked Serviceman book, about his journey through the history of Apple's Macintosh as owner/founder of an authorized Apple Service Center. He owned one of the first Apple II computers as well as one of the first Macintosh 128s. He hangs out with the Lakeland User Group in sunny Florida


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