The Laws of Gestalt: From Psychology to Graphic Design

Anyone who dedicates himself to design in any of its variants, whether graphic, web, industrial or interior, has studied Gestalt’s Laws during his training. It is a series of rules that relate visual stimuli with what they generate in the viewer’s mind. As a whole, they explain how perception plays a fundamental role when interpreting what we see, giving it a mental shape.

The Gestalt Theory

The Gestalt Theory was conceived at the beginning of the 20th century by the German psychologist Max Wertheimer and his acolyte’s group, as a psychological line opposed to behaviorism. This theory excluded subjective consciousness in human behavior, giving greater importance to the social environment and culture.

The great novelty that the Gestalt Theory meant was the study of mental processes, something unknown to the scientists of the time, for whom the brain was the great enigma of the human body. This line puts the individual and his perception of reality as the epicenter in decision-making, creating mental images of varying coherence about himself and his surroundings.

Psychological Current

As regards the world of psychology, Gestalt theory establishes that our brain creates mental representations of the reality in which we live and that based on them, we make the decisions that guide the course of our steps. That is to say, it focuses on perception, on how we see and perceive what happens to us, as the main driver of our behavior.

Thus, Gestaltians maintain that our experiences are not merely the sum of images, sounds, or sensations that we perceive through our senses, but independent entities formed in part by that sum and in part by how we manage it mentally through our subjectivity. Thus, these mental figures are much stronger and more powerful than those stimuli that have generated them.

Throughout history, different psychological therapies have been created based on this theory, such as that of Fritz Perls, not in vain called Gestalt Therapy.

The Concept Of Form

According to the Gestalt Theory, the form is defined based on the mental figure we are talking about. With time and the accumulation of experiences, our mind would be composed of different ways that would function as a whole. The relationship between them would be the nature of the decisions we make, and therefore of our behavior.

However, beyond the psychological concept, and to support it in a more visual way, the Laws of Gestalt were established, which in their graphic representation bring us closer to their deepest meaning.

Application To The Design World

What is interesting from a design point of view is that the laws enunciated by the Gestaltians can be extrapolated from the world of psychology to the universe of the visual. Not surprisingly, all studies related to the graphic universe are studied as a basis for understanding how humans capture the visual messages we receive.

In this way, the forms that we use in our graphic compositions, and the relationship between them, generate in the mind of those who visualize them new realities that can directly influence their psychology.

… and this is how graphic design can break into our lives and change EVERYTHING.