Michael Rock is a contributor to Ideapedia, “an encyclopedia in progress” published in the Japanese design magazine Idea #371. The feature aspires to unveil the processes behind graphic design through assembled keywords, visuals, and commentary from designers around the world. Michael shared his theory of “Coherence” and two supporting images: an unfinished late-15th century navigation map and AMO’s proposed European flag.
“The origin of the word is based in stickiness — how things hold together — but the linguistic meaning is more exact. Coherence is the property wherein there is unity between all the disparate parts of a text: all the elements must agree in order to be legible. Coherence is the most fundamental principle of graphic design from the micro-level — all the components of a single letter should relate to make a unified whole — to the global — all the visual components of a culture create a seemingly-natural bond between the parts. Coherent design systems naturalize essentially-artificial differences between things. It’s only through the elements of design — texts, maps, flags, signs, symbols, currency, publications, etc — we come to believe the world, as we have divided it, makes sense. We write our desires on the universe.”
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