Vivek Haldar

The 1964 origins of responsive design

The book Designing Programmes, by Karl Gerstner, was published in 1964. It lays out many of the same ideas that form the basis for responsive design on the web today. The author talks about how to construct a system of design that can adapt to different conditions, while retaining its core aesthetic.

The opening paragraph of the book puts it best:

Instead of solutions for problems, programmes for solutions… for no problem is there an absolute solution. Reason: the possibilities cannot be delimited absolutely. There is always a group of solutions, one of which is best under certain conditions.

For example, this logo for a music shop adapts to various paper sizes and layouts, while conveying an identity.

He also talks about how to think of design as choosing points in space of axes, where the axes are things like color, layout, type, size, contrast etc. That was the inspiration for my earlier post on automating web design.