Coco Chanel teaches us about type

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s a fantastic quote by Coco Chanel, that goes something like this:


“Once you’ve dressed, before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.”

As with many things, this sentiment can apply to more than just a lady’s outfit – for us it rings true in the world of typography. As Chanel rightly advises us, the key to a good composition is restraint.

Two massive trends in type design this year are minimalism and “mix and match” – while they seem like polar opposites, one rule applies to both – when you do it right it looks effortless, but when you don’t it’s very obvious.


Juice Meds + ® by empatia studio and Coffee Typography by Tomasz Biernat 

The thing about any kind of minimalist design is because there are so few individual working parts, each one has to work that bit harder. It’s not just about creating something with as few elements as possible – it’s about selecting and arranging each one of those elements exactly where it needs to be. Minimalist design can sometimes be regarded as easy or lazy by the uninitiated, when really it requires as much (if not more) skill as any other kind of design. The temptation to over-design is always there – to add just one more little tweak or small detail, always with the potential to throw the whole thing off-balance.


Effective Editorial Design by Caroline Henson


Colourplan branding by Made Thought 


Minimalist Euro2012 posters by David Watson

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 4.39.58 PM

Personal branding by Matthew Brooks

Mix-and-match type, on the other hand, has a whole other set of problems, that remarkably boil down to the same thing – if you put one little element in there that doesn’t belong, the whole thing gets thrown off balance. With so many personalities on the page, a designer has to work hard to keep everything in harmony by selecting typefaces and elements that play well with each other, not against each other. We have to select typefaces and accents with just enough contrast to create visual texture, while still maintaining the harmony of the composition.


Secret of Getting Ahead by Tom Ritskes


Seven Lovely Logics by Nico Lopez


On Photography by yours truly


Travel posters by  Vyacheslav Shestopalov

As one of our own Niceworkians likes to say, “Never trust a designer with terrible fashion sense.” So, in life and design, it’s Coco Chanel all the way. Keep it simple.

Not a designer, but interested in using beautiful typography to make your brand better?

Published by Ross

Ross grew up on the wrong side of the Jukskei. He studied at Vega and was awarded the Top Student prize at his graduation. After working as a freelancer for four years, he founded Nicework with Ben Vorster. He has a penchant for Scandinavian wood furniture and really nice shirts. He is open to bribery- all iPads are welcome. He also likes chocolate cake and is happily married.

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