Living in today’s on-screen world, the idea of flat design has become commonplace. Though designers are becoming more adept at using on-screen techniques to create dimension and the visual sensation of a texture, the sense of touch is missing from our touch screens. Texture has become even more important, and appreciated, as one of the major graphic design principles.

From brand identity to packaging, Pum Lefebure, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Design Army, is a purveyor in the strategy of using texture in graphic design – a strategy that plays a big part in the Design Principles promotion Design Army created for Neenah.

We asked Lefebure share her thoughts about how texture acts as a major graphic design principle.

When should designers think about texture?

If a piece of graphic design is simple and minimal, that’s when you should think about texture. You can have a really good piece of typography on a smooth paper and you can have exactly the same design on a texture paper, and each are going to give you a completely different feeling. If you emboss or deboss a piece of typography…all of a sudden your work has dimension.

Paper helps achieve texture as a graphic design principle.

How is texture used to elevate design?

Texture adds dimension. For example, we are working on a prototype of a box for a fine jeweler. If you look at the design, it’s really simple typography on a white background. Because we used LEATHERLIKE® paper to communicate an elevated luxury brand, the printed piece looks richer and more luxurious. Instead of simple foil stamping, we used textured foil to create the illusion of metal used in jewelry design. This is an example of how texture can easily take design from simple to intricate.

Paper helps achieve texture as a graphic design principle.

How do people respond to texture?

Imagine you give two identical teddy bears to a child. One is a smooth teddy and the other is a fluffy, very soft teddy. I’d be willing to bet you the child is going to go with the fluffy one first, because everyone responds to texture. When you look at a plush stuffed animal, it gives you a sense of comfort. It’s something you want to hold and cuddle. Texture adds another, and very different, level of emotional response. Creating an emotional response creates a higher likelihood of brand recall and brand loyalty.

What is a common mistake designers might make when it comes to texture?

A very common mistake in this digital age is to start designing something on the computer and working on the graphic design part without first looking at the material. This is especially true for packaging. You want to look at a swatchbook first, look at the kind of material to see what feeling you’re drawn to. For example, if I want something plastic-like and very smooth, I might pick PLIKE®Papers, and then I would go from there to decide what kind of design would look good on this material. We think about paper as the fabric to enhance our design. We start with texture, meaning we start with the paper first, before we even design anything.

Paper helps achieve texture as a graphic design principle.

Texture is just one of the 20 design principles featured in Neenah’s Design Principles promotion. Presented in a mysterious black box are 20 different beautifully designed and printed circles. Each designed for a specific principle, and each featuring a different luxurious paper from The Design Collection.