J. Pedro Ribeiro

Book Review: Making and Breaking the Grid

December 16, 2009

Book Review: Making and Breaking the Grid

Making and Breaking the Grid, by Timothy Samara, is an analysis of the construction and deconstruction of grid-based designs. Featuring a comprehensive showcase of works in different media and across several decades.

The Book

The book is basically divided into 2 parts. The first one about the creation of the grid-based designs and its usage. The second one explains the deconstruction of the grid, a different approach on design in which the grid doesn’t have to obey any rules. In the first few pages the reader will be immersed into the historical facts surrounding the development of the grid-based design. There is a lot of information here - about 150 years of art & design evolution in only 7 pages - maybe a timeline would be interesting. But then again, this is not a history book.

The next chapter the author slows down the pace and starts a workshop about grid design. The content here is precise, clear enough for beginners and a good read for advanced designers. Concepts and styles are illustrated in a simple yet effective way and the examples are spot on.

Then the showcase begins. Pages and pages of great artwork from different decades and styles. Each of them with its own grid style - column, modular grid, etc. Description and comments explain how it was used and the effect generated by it.


As an introduction to grid-design, Making and Breaking the Grid does its job. It will give the initial hints and ideas of layout structure in a few pages but doesn’t go very deep. The highlight of the book, without any doubt, is the showcase of designs. Big illustrations and photographs with detailed information. Definitely a must-have on any designer library.

Click here for a preview on Google Books.

J. Pedro Ribeiro

I’m a Brazilian front-end developer living in London. This website features some of my latest projects and my thoughts on anything web related.
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