Otherwise known as negative space, this design element gives a presence to something that is in fact absent and is something very much treasured by the design team here at Chalk & Ward Advertising. It is the process of positive space creating a shape or subject where nothing has been placed or simply the space in design which is considered as ‘blank’.
The beginning of negative space goes right back to the early stages of typography design with the letterpress; each letter type was created by crafting negative space around the letter, a process whereby the negative space defines the letters themselves. It has been said by some typographers that white space should be thought of as the 27th letter of the alphabet. White space guides the eye and helps large sections of type read easier. If you think of every item of punctuation on the keyboard in front of you, each of them individually aim to add (some sort) of spatial modification to a written paragraph. This engages the eye’s journey and highlights words, even contributing to add meaning and tone.
The same concept applies in design – white space compliments or helps to draw attention to other elements in the design composition. The main subject of a design or in a commercial instance for example, where an important piece of information needs to get across quickly, surrounding the subject with space will add more emphasis to the focus objects. White space has been described in some cases as ‘a place for the eye to rest’.
Essentially, white space acts as an equaliser in design, the perfect balance between positive and negative space is thought of by many as considered design. Marie, our Junior Designer and Artworker here at Chalk & Ward Advertising in Exeter said,
‘White space is as much of a design consideration as choosing the elements that should be put in. Negative space (any colour), can set a tone, improve legibility and aid comprehension of a message or idea’.
White space is used in exactly the same way in music; white space is silence within a composition. You could argue that a loud trumpet after a pause of silence could have more effect than if it was surrounded by other noise, or silencing all other instruments to hear only vocals could heighten the voice’s effect and strengthen the lyrics’ message. The same with Interior Design – an unusual chair in a white room will be more prominent than the same chair in a cluttered room. Removing noise adds emphasis in all elements of design.
White Space in Logo Design
A ‘reverted object’ is when an interesting or artistically relevant shape is created from the space around a subject, not the subject itself. This white space is often considered the ‘real’ subject of an image. There are some brilliant examples of how businesses have used negative space in their corporate identity, adding a dual meaning to reinforce their corporate values. The most interesting and well-known instances of this are the FedEx logo and the Formula 1 logo. The Fed-Ex logo if you look closely has a forward facing arrow, subtly underlining Fed-Ex’s speedy delivery. Formula 1’s logo uses white space to show the ‘1’. There isn’t in fact any substance there, however the white space underpins and adds strong meaning to the present elements to make one interesting visual mark.
See here for some top examples: Logo Design Love
– Abby Miller, Account Executive Intern