I never liked math. The language in which it was presented to my fellow like-minded classmates and I always felt like something similar to Greek, Latin or Klingon. It was never illustrative or interesting, but rather sanitary and self-contained. I did not want to design a mathematics textbook. I wanted to design a book that talked about math by way of the human condition, that is to say, mathematics through humanism and not intellectualism.
The first aspect of this book that became extremely important in its design and feeling was the grid. Keeping in mind this humanist ideal, the book has a grid consisting of seven columns. Seven columns per page was crucial due to its inability to become symmetrical. Each page is also divided into three sections horizontally on two different planes: the page, as well as the marginal page. This guideline lended itself to eye-pleasing compositions and created two different layers of alignment on flat pages.
One of the more obvious decisions a designer can make when designing for “math” is using geometric typefaces. I attempted to veer away from this cliché. I utilized three fonts: Goudy Old Style for the text, Karla for captions and sub-headers, and Apercu Mono for headers and titles. Goudy is a serif typeface that is both easily readable and can handle various Latin symbols that are often found in mathematical texts. Karla is a humanist, grotesque sans-serif which is easily read, even at small sizes. Apercu Mono is a monospace typeface that is reminiscent of the early days of digital mathematics and is also in contrast to the very assymetrical balance of this book.
Color choice came after the decision to design a black and white book with black and white images. Each chapter is indicated by a new color that is chosen based on its ability to handle both black text and paper color accents.
The imagery that is contained within is an attempt to juxtapose human life and the world that is mathematics. Most all of the images contain the human form, beasts, landscapes, or flora. These “organic” images are accompanied with geometric diagrams and accents that reinforce the idea of the system, that is to say mathematics, that controls this Universe.