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The Classic Book on Grid Systems, But Outdated
on July 29, 2009
I just finished reading Josef Müller-Brockmann's classic book Grid Systems in Graphic Design, but was unfortunately disappointed. Let me start by explaining what is great about this book.
First, this book is clearly a classic in the history of graphic design. Origianlly published in 1981, this book was a landmark book because it laid the foundation for the use of grids in graphic design. Josef Müller-Brockmann was a master of grids, and presents his insightful information in a very concise, efficient manner. Second, this book is full of lots of examples, and covers a wide variety of areas relating to grids, such as how to construct a grid, using a grid in corporate identity work, using grids in the third dimension, and the use of grid-like proportions in classic paintings and architecture. He even touches on secondary issues related to grids, such as typefaces, margins, and leading.
However, there were several key issues with this book that kept me from giving it a five-star review. First, the book is very outdated. The examples mostly look like they are from the 1970s. Also, Müller-Brockmann several times talks about photo typesetting, a technology that is long forgotten in graphic design today. Although this is an important book in the development of grid systems in graphic design, there have been many developments in the last thirty years in design that the reader misses out on in this book. Second, this book is in both English and German, which means that there is only about half as much content as you might expect after quickly glancing through the pages of this book. However, this is a small complaint, since Müller-Brockmann is very good at giving lots of information in very little words. Third, this book is very expensive (especially for a black and white book). It's hard for me to recommend purchasing such an expensive book when the information seems so outdated.
In summary, I think this book is a good introduction to grid systems, but probably not so good for experienced graphic designers who already know the basics of using grids. Also, if possible, I would recommend borrowing this book from a library or school instead of purchasing it. There are other, more current books on grids that are less expensive. However outdated this book is, Müller-Brockmann's Grid Systems in Graphic Design remains a classic book in the development of graphic design.