Design: underwear and books and the missing link

“The grid is the underwear of the book.” 

Here is a great short film of Massimo Vignelli giving some insight into his book design process. I've mentioned the Design Matters podcast here before, but if you'd like to hear more from Vignelli, check out his 2010 interview with host Debbie Millman.

While on the the subject of grids, I have to mention that I'm a fan of the system Penguin defined to create their book covers. In the hands of different designers over the years, Penguin has built a recognizable brand based on this pretty brilliant grid. You can read more about the history here, and check out the book (that I own and love) Penguin By Design which goes into more of the history and development and creativity behind the brand

The Fibonacci Sequence (also known as the golden ration or golden section) found in nature is yet another grid type and composition aid when it comes to design. Read the details in an online excerpt from (another book I own and love) Thinking With Type

My starting point for design is too often a throw-ideas-onto-the-white-space-and-hope-for-something-elegant, which generally leads to 50% tweaking until it's right and 50% giving up and starting over. Maybe physically drawing out the grid instead of envisioning one is where it's at? Maybe the structure is what's missing? Could it be that simple? The grid has my vote.