Inside the design: why are watch faces so busy?
Reed, a graphic designer who designed clean logos to suit the tastes of Hillary Clinton and dozens of companies, wears a model designed by Tibor Kalman M & Co Bodoni watch and designed a concept timepiece for Anicorn, that is to say, he considers himself a modernist at heart. The hardest part of achieving minimalism, he notes, is that there is very little room for error. Eliminating what Reed calls “visual pollution” requires a careful eye for design basics like proportion and negative space. “There is a relationship between everything on the face,” he says. “Everything must be in harmony.” He was drawn to Kalman’s Bedoni watch for its clarity and efficiency. “There’s nothing on this watch that shouldn’t be there,” he says. “There are minutes, there are hours, there are two hands, then the name of the company – and you could say that maybe not even that important.
For much of the Western world, modernism has become a shorthand for “good” design. Its stoic influence is passed down from generation to generation of design students, who learn that the design canon revolves around a predominantly white, predominantly male perspective, whose work champions reduction. This ideology cuts across all mediums – from graphic design to architecture to furniture design. A spare aesthetic can be a valuable signifier. In book design, for example, negative space is literally more expensive to produce. “It is the concept of luxury margin”, declares Joe doucet, a designer known for his modern approach to everything from chairs to playing cards. Doucet explains that the extra space on the edge of the printed page allows readers to hang onto the book without covering the text with their thumbs. “Inexpensive dough novels printed text to the brim.”