Willi Kunz, Typography:
Macro- and Microaesthetics

In design textbooks, it is often said that “form follows function,” but in many cases, the form becomes dominant and obscures the message or function, as happens far too frequently, some people say, in experimental postmodern typography.

Typography: Macro- and Microaesthetics, which was written by a Swiss-trained modernist, professes that function and form should be fused, that design is essentially always a search for a balance between legibility and readability, utility and beauty, effect and affect, and so on. If that balance is unattainable, advises the author, “it is more appropriate to adhere to the basic typographic principles that stress function than to resort to unbridled self-expression.” Those principles – which are set out briefly and very clearly in the text, then borne out by dozens of rigorous works (posters, logos, page layouts), nearly all by the author – must be applied on two levels of attention: From macro, the big picture, or generalized view (as if looking through the wrong end of a telescope); and from a micro, or close-up, particular view. Each level is essential for its own reasons: “Macroaesthetics capture the readers’ initial attention,” explains Kunz, “and lead them to the more complex microaesthetic level.”

In the end, the finest, most compelling evidence of the author’s method are the quality, clarity, and completeness of this very book, which he wrote, designed, and illustrated. Of recent design books, this is one of the most attractive and convincing, and would be an inspiring volume to own and use in a graphic design classroom. Highly recommended.