DESIGNING WITH THE ‘SPIRIT’ OF THE STORY IN MIND
I had the opportunity to work with the staff of Ottawa magazine for the last year as a design consultant. Their special spring issue featured a full report on the impact of the condo boom in our city. When we started talking about the issue, we focused on the ‘spirit’ of the topic. While discussing the story and photo ideas, the profiles, the issues (are there too many condos going up?), and the entire concept, we created a list of key words to guide us: ’vibrant,’ ‘high rise,’ ‘vertical,’ ‘tall, sky scraping,’ ‘trendy.’ From there, working cover lines were written to help guide the overall design and the story flow. Using ‘content drives design’ as our guide, all of our decisions were based on our list of key words. We chose typography (Interstate) with a strong vertical stroke to emphasize the ‘rise’, and we created a grid system that promoted the feeling of growth, height and rising. Notice how the 12-column grid (underlying 3-column grid) allowed us to use white space in a proportional, not arbitrary way. That white space was strategically placed throughout the page designs to promote the feeling of vertical movement.
But while we were talking, we also explored the idea of entering condo spaces. Most were wide open concept, very horizontal in feel. So, we inserted important horizontal movement throughout the pages in order to emphasize the idea of elevator doors opening into expansive spaces. Rise up in the elevator (vertical feel), elevator doors open, enter the large, open concept space (horizontal feel).
A color palette was created to reflect stainless steel, glass and clear, bright open spaces. Grey, orange and white became the key tones used throughout.
The great creative team on this issue included Art Director Jane Corbett, Editor Sarah Brown, Designer Jeff Eustace, and Publisher Dianne Wing.
HERE ARE SOME SPREADS FROM THE ISSUE
It was very important to have conversations about the concept, the stories in the works and the ‘spirit’ of the issue BEFORE the design was started. That conversation led us to pencil sketches and InDesign prototypes that gave the whole issue structure, flow and spirit.
By establishing that overall feel and look, the photographers knew that a combination of vertical and horizontal images would work well within the framework. The writers had the whole issue concept in mind while they finished their stories. And we had a good framework on which to design.
Check out OTTAWA magazine at http://www.ottawamagazine.com