What would you classify as 'fun' design particularly in visual communication?

topucafo's picture

Im writing an essay on the definition of 'fun' within a design context esp. in visual communication/design and would like to know what designers think what the word means and various examples of typography, logos, installations, desginers etc where fun is represented. It would also be interesting to see if our views of what 'fun' is in a design context are similar or completely different

aluminum's picture

I'd argue 'fun' and 'funny' are different things.

Fun design, to me, is simply good design. It makes finding/doing whatever I am doing unobtrusive and helpful enough to make the task 'fun'.

Alessandro Segalini's picture

Darrel is right, I believe simple denotations of shapes and colors may be addressed as 'fun' in visual communication, or take for instance all the unusable pieces of information design out there.
This strip is funny, puns are fun.
This is also good, about timing, too, not really about visual design, tho :
"Italian Time" from "Le Barzellette" by Gigi Proietti, director Carlo Vanzina (2004).

Miss Tiffany's picture

Great books which I agree with:

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
Picturing & Poeting by Alan Fletcher
Beware Wet Paint by Alan Fletcher
A Smile in the Mind by David Stuart, Beryl McAlhone, and Edward de Bono

nitingarg's picture

As Darrel and Alessandro said, fun can be easily differentiated from "funny".

For e.g we say, " i like roaming around alone in this area, its fun". So you don't need to be humorous or funny at that time to enjoy.
Fun is a simple feel-good reaction...and good design makes you feel that by shapes, color, visual appeal, sights, sounds and motion.

Well, Miss Tiffany has given some really good links,sure they will help.

topucafo's picture

thanks. those books mentioned by Miss Tiffany will definately be useful. I find in terms of font, fun is characterised as childish, cliche even kitsch. Would you agree? When i visited font sites, all the so called 'fun' fonts have too much personality that I find it hard to see how they would be employed in many mainstream commercial design contexts.

nitingarg's picture

Well topucafo, i feel that a font doesn't have to be too expressive in itself to emote the message.

For instance, take a font, reduce the letter spacing and put them on black as negative space, it will create a real tension in layout. Now again take the same font, give it some free space, use bright colours and you will see that same font will emote Joy.

The final appeal depends a lot on the composition and visual treatment also.

Nick Shinn's picture

"Bounce" is the quintessential feature of fun type.
That's a lettering term to describe not being rooted to the baseline.
Rotation--not being strictly vertical--could be construed as a side effect of bounce, as could "wander", which would mean that letterspacing is irregular; rotation and wander are what happen when there's bounce, as the trampolinist demonstates.

Dancing is fun, but not marching.

Any typeface can be bounced, and thereby funnified, so it's a typographic aspect of layout, not in the font per se.
I suppose the typographer could also play with size and scaling (horizontal to vertical proportion).

However the same principle of deviation from strict regularity may be applied to the design of glyphs.
In small degree, this provides wit; a bit more and it becomes cuteness; further still, and into the indiscriminate area of professional sloppiness, or vernacular amateurism. But keep going and you end up with something like Fontesque, in which not only is the quality of bounce embedded, but there is also pointed deviation from regularity in counter size, serif size, stroke width, terminal treatment (i.e. arbitrariness in use of ball or adnate terminals) and serif genre (i.e. bracketed, slab, or hooked).

Further with the dance metaphor, syncopation is good, emphasizing an off-beat. So there is some organizing principle in the disarray of fun. Going totally free-form is generally outside the comfort zone.

In any design context, there is a norm, so a type choice which is slightly more irregular than normal for that kind of work will start to be fun, along the axis of wit to cute to cloying to...naff.

aluminum's picture

"I find in terms of font, fun is characterized as childish, cliche even kitsch. Would you agree?"

It's like furniture.

What most big-box furniture stores call 'modern' is really something designed in 1980 that is really big and poofy.

Furniture snobs, though, tend to use 'modern' to refer to mid-century pieces created by the likes of the Eames.

So, mass market: fun = comic sans
Type and design market: fun = highly functional typefaces with a strong personality

I think those in the industry would use the term 'novelty' over 'fun' to describe the often goofy looking 'childish' faces.

"Dancing is fun, but not marching. "

You need to rent Stripes again, Nick. ;o)

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