I love clean, uncluttered design and I make no excuses for that preference. If you are a lover of cramming everything onto the page that you think your audience might possibly, just may potentially want to see, then my personal style isn’t for you.
When I interviewed at CM, the work in my portfolio reflected this direction. I even (cheesy as it was) compared my work to buying a wedding dress. Stay with me here…
When buying a wedding dress, the cleaner the dress, the more expensive it is. Dresses covered in beading, lace and other frou-frou are often cheaper. The clean dresses are more expensive because the material has to be impeccable – there isn’t any ornamentation to hide a flaw, thus making it more difficult to create the garment, which translates to a higher price-point. That is how I feel about cluttered design – it looks cheap. When the work is better edited, it looks more expensive.
Consider, if you will, much of the work found on TheDieline.com. A few specific favorites of mine are The Optimist Wine Bottle, Designer Philippe Bordonado’s work and Slice. All of these pieces specifically represent the sort of expensive look I believe clean design represents. These products may not be costly in reality, but they sure look like it.
The white space of the wine label would JUMP off the shelf at a liquor store. There are likely many designers who would shudder at the sight of the open space with a reverse claustrophobia, of sorts, as if they have lost something by not filling that space. The designer here has exhibited a grand amount of restraint in his work. The work of Philippe Bordonado is just beautiful all over. I mean, seriously… which would you rather have sitting on your counter at home, a bottle of olive oil with his design or Rachael Ray’s?
Now take a look at the Slice packaging. No frills here… it’s straight to the point, uncluttered packaging that allows the product to be the focus. Even the product design itself is very purposefully thought out, nothing fussy at all getting in the way of the functionality.
My advice to all designers: Look at your work as if it’s a compilation of accessories, from the logo to the copy to the color combinations you use. Take a final look at all of the accessories and remove 1 or 2 before letting the piece out of your sight.
Mourned by few, the era of 3-martini lunches is long gone. But, is the era of just having lunch with coworkers, clients, or friends also