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How can you use asymmetry to create an active design?

Posted by Jen in design & art, random thoughts on April 11th, 2009

shampoodollAsymmetry graphic design, compare to symmetry design, looks more casual and thus get more interesting visual result.  However, as a designer, we should know that asymmetry design still needs visual balance and it’s even harder than keeping the balance for symmetry design, since to make different components in one design balance, we have to take all the visual factors including size, shape, values, contrast, distance, etc… into consideration.

I regard graphic design a form of art that people use to convey information and messages.  It can be called applied art.  Therefore, to create an active design, asymmetry is used much more often than symmetry method, due to the fact that asymmetry is more dynamic, flexible and alive.

In order to convey information, designer needs to create a flow in the design, through which the audience will be able to get the information.  Usually we put the catchiest component that we want the audience see at the first glance.  This is to get the attention from the audience to let them look into the design. This component can be an interesting image or some headline text.  To make it outstanding to catch the audience’s eyes, it has to be in the very dominant position of the design, say the center or near center place, and with high contrast to the background color.  The rest of the components will be either the supplementary of the headline or the details of the entire information.  Once the audience is reading your design, you have to let him read smoothly and comfortably. Then a flow of the components is really important. The information has to be in a flow, starting from the first eye catchy component.  You can place the components in the order by their size, contrast, saturation and distance to the center.  Say the most important information need a big size, high contrast and close to the dominant place, while the last information is usually least distinguished. They cannot be competing with each other or hiding from each other.  Audience needs a clear flow to avoid any kind of confusion.

This concept of message flow perfectly matches the asymmetry design method.  To achieve a balanced visual effect, the biggest (in terms of shape, color, value, etc.) item is placed closest to the center while smaller items are placed further from the center.  However, no matter what type of graphics we are creating, we should always keep in mind that all the components should look like they are placed in relationship with each other in stead of randomly distributed, because graphics is a form of art that conveys messages.

The business card of Shampoo Doll is a very good example of Asymmetry design. The design mainly consists two parts, the text of “Shampoo Dolls” in the center and the blue shampoo bottle at the bottom right corner. The magenta text in the center is the dominant part.  It has a very strong contrast with the blue background and stands out from this business card. I believe the designer of this card did it on purpose since the name of the business is most important information that they want to convey to the reader of the business card.  The graphic of a shampoo bottle as the second component in this designer is positioned at the corner of the card, with very similar blue of the background. The purpose of this component is to balance the text and to give the graphic message of the business to the readers.  Thus an interesting asymmetry design came to life.

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