A purist approach, Visual Hierarchy is an interesting principle of selecting some elements on a design in order of importance to maximise its visual quality.
It helps to develop a design logic and define and focus on perfecting key elements to ensure that a product is not only visually balanced and draws your attention, but also creates a sequence to which the design can reveal and expresses itself in the most logical (although maybe not always the best) way the longer you look at it.
In car design Visual Hierarchy is divided into 1st, 2nd and 3rd “Reads”. They are the 3 main areas of a car that should capture your interest, or curiosity first, but they also make up what should be the best visual expression of the car and its character.
Image Via Why Modern Car Designs Are So Visually Complex | Q&A w/ Pro Designer
For Footwear Design the rule for Visual Hierarchy is also a design logic, but a bit different and maybe more commercially motivated. I would say that its more immersive, but it also complements well the “3 Reads” theory for Car Design.
Visual Hierarchy in Footwear Design is divided into 3 parts; 10, 1, 10, or 30, 3, 30 depending if you count in metric, or imperial measuring units.
To capture your attention, draw you closer and speak to you (should I say seduce) a footwear design should have :-
1. One feature that is easily noticeable from 10 metres away, say from across a room.
2. A second interesting element should reveal itself as you move closer to 1 metre away, maybe as you stand in front of the shelf.
3. And lastly a third interesting detail that should draw you even closer as you pick the shoe off the shelf and examine it closely from 10 centimetres, or 30 inches.
- But after more than 20 years these rules probably need a little updating, for buying shoes online for example and even the traditional logic of Hierarchy could be revised. Maybe in a way that is counterintuitive?