Gestalt principles of design are literally the key to making visual elements work—if they work well of not is up to you. Closure, one of the principles, plays a strong role in any “minimal” design, where a good designer will use it to pare down his or her work into as few elements as possible to still communicate successfully.
Pentagram was recently approached with the task of branding New York’s first poster museum—yes, they were asked to (almost literally) make posters to tell people about a museum about posters. The identity they crafted is simple in appearance, which is where its brilliance shows best. The functional ability for it to remain “out of the way” so to speak allows the work to show through whilst still communicating Poster Museum. Think of it as those television ads that appear during a soccer game, with the game shrinking slightly so that a banner can fully encompass the game without actually getting in the way. Only this branding is significantly less annoying than Chevrolet reducing my view of a beautiful shot on goal.
The functionality of Pentagram’s branding for Poster Museum extends well beyond business cards and wall displays, however. Its marvelous ability to shrink out of the way yet still remain is ripe for publication usage. In fact, plenty do it already. Just without quite as much tact as legendary design studio Pentagram, of course. Imagine the cover story’s title page in the magazine. Sure, the title needs to grab the occasional lazy reader, but you’re here for the story—heck, you picked up the magazine because of the cover so you certainly already know what’s inside, or at least have an idea of what you’ll find. So what if that title only took up a half inch, bleeding off the left edge of the page but so tastefully as to remain perfectly legible should the apathetic eye need a reminder on what story he or she is about to delve into.
It’s elegant. It’s simple. It’s pragmatic. Sure, it’s trite when it appears on the cover, then the cover story and table of contents and every other spread inside the issue. But the subtle power of leaving pieces out—of closure—makes it an impressively understated tool in any publication designer’s arsenal.