One of the coolest grids of all time is Karl Gerstner’s grid for Captial magazine. Based on subdividing a square into 58 equal units, Gerstner found he was able to make a grid of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 columns. It’s truly a thing of beauty. Designer Pedro Monteiro of the blog What Type recently retraced Gerstner’s steps, and, while he is not totally faithful to the original grid, his is certainly in the spirit of Gerstner’s, and he was nice enough to offer a PDF of his efforts here.
These are slides from the lecture I gave to my publication design students on the first day of class. The first half of the lecture was focused on craft. I basically looked at Case da Abitare, a beautifully redesigned Italian home magazine, and then showed my students how to take it apart. (There is a great interview with the magazine’s creative director Tyler Brûlé, art director Kuchar Swara, and photo director Stephen Ledger-Lomas logged here on our class blog.) I started with a heavily-gridded page, the Index, and reveal the magazine’s basic 12-column structure. I went on to show how lines and rules are applied to the gutters and outer margins of that 12-column grid. Then I showed how the type is sitting on a p3.5 baseline grid which governs the placement of all horizontal elements on the page. Basically, the height of any element on Case da Abitare’s pages is a multiple of p3.5. Then I showed students how to guess at type sizes based on baseline reoccurrance, and finally I showed how all of these templated elements play out across a variety of grid schemes.
The second part of the presentation is a set of “Notes on Magazines.” First, I asked students to consider magazines as a publication form by contrasting them to other types of publications. (For the sake of simplicity, I definited a “publication” as any object with multiple pages made available to the public.) This included newspapers, journals, brochures, books, and blogs. Then we looked at various “toggles” within the magazine form itself. These included timing (or frequency), scope, length, number of authors, quantity of advertising, makeup of audience, and different strategies for distribution. Finally, I sketched a “garden variety” three-act magazine. This is what most lay readers learn as the magazine form proper: front of book, feature well, and back of book, with all the content-driven and stylistic assumptions that come with those sections. —RG
An article by blogger The Ministry of Type on how to construct the grid used on Penguin’s classic paperbacks (via Ace Jet 170).