The View From 32


JUNE 20, 2007   

The art of looking sideways

Pages from The Art of Looking SidewaysIt's about a thousand pages of quotations, diagrams, photos and commentaries collected by British designer Alan Fletcher.

I've been picking it up from time to time and randomly reading pages, a few from one section, a few from another. It reminds me of the stuff that I tear out of newspapers or write on little scraps of paper and tack up above my computer or on my wall. But lots more, and better organized.

The design and typography often literally make you look sideways (or turn the book), forcing you to stop and presumably think about what you're doing every now and again. I should always read it with my glasses on, since the size of the type—sometimes printed in yellow, gray or blue—make it difficult to read.

Fletcher seems to adopt David Carson's approach of making you work at reading the text so that you'll pay attention. Fletcher does it more neatly—unconventional, not messy—but this makes it seem more contrived. I prefer the liveliness of Carson's work. When it comes to 1,000 pages, though, I think Fletcher's will be more readable.

So far (probably I've looked at/read 5% of the book) I think it's working as intended: diverse ideas combined in unexpected ways make you pause at least for a moment and wonder...



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