Some confirmation of the validity of these basic design principles can be found by looking at situations outside the worlds of art and professional design. Examples of excellence in design are by no means confined to the works of designers. By examining such examples, we can analyze the qualities that generate satisfaction and try to define the ways in which we perceive excellence. We can, in fact, begin with design that can develop without human contribution. It is almost a platitude to say that natural things are beautiful.
Almost everyone considers trees, flowers, landscapes, birds, animals, and even human beings beautiful. Design in nature, while a process that operates very differently from the human design process, only produces objects and settings that work well and satisfy us visually. A second area of design excellence not created by designers is vernacular design. This term refers to the products of unsophisticated people working in traditional and familiar ways. Their design arises in direct response to needs rather than from a conscious effort to create an individual object in a special way.
A third area, one very much in human control, technological design is most often the work of engineers. While engineers use the term design, they concentrate on function and structure, giving little or no thought to appearance in their work. Nevertheless, at least some technological design is of outstanding quality.
[ Natural Design | Vernacular Design | Technological Design ]
Nature normally produces its products through processes independent of human control. Inanimate, or inorganic, nature can be described as the result of forces acting on materials in ways that follow natural laws that we have come to understand with increasing precision but whose origins remain unknown. A starry night sky, which, scientifically speaking, is simply a display of celestial bodies that rush through space and emit light, is universally viewed as beautiful. The Milky Way, Q moon, a spiral nebula beautiful elements of the night actually mean little to us beyond our recognition of them visual traces of extremely remote realities. The earth give: satisfying images closer to our direct experience- the sea mountains, polar caps, the patterns of rocks, pebbles, sand cloud forms, and patterns of moving water-events that can be identified and explained by the appropriate sciences.
The evolutionary processes that govern the biological world or organic nature have somewhat more kinship to the human design process. Among the great variety of living things, successful forms- in a functional, survival sense prospers develop, while less successful variants disappear. This process seems to explain why living things are invariably of excellent design. They are also sources of visual satisfaction, true IT for the human design effort. The growth patterns of plant forms trees, and flowers can be analyzed in terms of geometric and mathematical principles that often parallel patterns in astronomical configurations. Both patterns, organic and inorganic, are responding to the same kinds of physical realities, although on a vastly different scale.
Animal life, from the microscopic forms up to the large creatures, is comparably logical and beautiful in design terms. People who object that some living creatures, such as snakes and insects, look ugly are usually simply expressing their Given reassurance against stings, bites, or other forms of a one can find design merit in even the most threatening of forms. Living species change with the passage of time as conditions change.
The great prehistoric reptiles, made obsolete by environmental change, can still be appreciated as superb designs for the conditions under which they prospered. It interesting to note that some animals also produce object webs, nests, hives, dams, even lodges. These creations, the result of instinctive drives rather than of conscious planning are as consistently excellent as the direct biological products of nature.
Vernacular design, produced by human beings, has something in common with the processes of organic nature. The objects made by prehistoric and primitive populations, like the ore forms of evolution, emerged through trial and error, and then became traditional forms, repeated over generations with minimal change as long as they continued to serve the purposes for which they were developed. Simple tools and weapons, primitive huts and tents, containers of pottery or basketry, and basic woven fabrics are not the design of a particular creative person but rather types that show up in a particular society with only limited individual variation.
These things draw our interest because of the excellence of design they often demonstrate, and because we also find them beautiful in ways that more sophisticated design often has trouble equaling.Vernacular design is by no means limited to the ancient and primitive worlds.
Modern examples surround us in such everyday objects as tools, kitchen implements, bottles, jugs, and jars, sporting and outdoor gear, musical instruments, and the innumerable things for which the question, "Who designed this?" has no answer. The fishermans dory, the lobster trap, the fireplug, and the telephone pole-all examples of generally excellent vernacular design-like the webs, nests, and hives of the animal world, evolved to fill a specific need without benefit of formal design efforts.
Technology generates design that, while not at all simple or unself-conscious in a technical sense, in aesthetic terms is natural as the products of nature or vernacular design. Indeed, the term technological vernacular is sometimes used to describe the design that has its origin in invention and engineering. The designs of ships, aircraft, bridges, and many kinds of machinery, often deemed excellent, are carefully planned in terms of functional performance and structure but not in terms of aesthetics. In other words, aeronautical engineers, naval architects, designers of turbines, pumps, and printing presses design for performance and do not usually
concern themselves with questions of beauty.
Nonetheless, their designs often look beautiful to us. In fact, gears, bearings, propellers, and similar technological objects have been gathered together and displayed in museums under the term machine art. We find it hard to believe that the designers of such objects do not take aesthetic considerations into account. We also find it surprising that efforts to improve technological design through the advice of design professionals often do more harm than good.
The design excellence of technological objects comes from the way in which their designs are developed a way that closely parallels the designs of nature and the vernacular designers. Forms are suggested and guided by functional needs and the practical issues imposed by materials and manufacturing techniques.
Each concept, each detail is tested by performance criteria quite literally in a test laboratory, or in the long-term testing of use so that better ideas survive while less successful ones fall away.
Designers of both buildings and interiors constantly turn to natural, vernacular, and technological design for inspiration and guidance. Their aim is not to imitate or borrow the forms of these designs, although this is not uncommon. Rather, it is to learn how the practical aspects of designing can lead to visual results that express the intentions behind the design process. We expect an interior space to serve its purposes well, that is, to offer comfort and convenience. We expect it to be well made from suitable materials put together with quality manufacturing techniques and workmanship.
We also have a right to expect that the space will convey a sense of what it is and what it does and to convey this in a way that is clear and elegant. A comparison with a written message may be helpful. A badly written paragraph, letter, or newspaper story, even if confusing and ungrammatical, can give accurate information, thus serving its basic purpose of conveying a message. The same content can be expressed in writing that communicates with clarity and ease, even writing that becomes a pleasure to read, or, at best, a form of art that goes far beyond the simple purpose of factual communication.
The old issues of content and form arise here. In design, purpose and structure make up the content of the visual product the designer creates. The forms in which that content is expressed can be clumsy, confused, inappropriate, and sloppy. It can also be clear, organized, expressive of the design process and its methods, and expressive also of its time and place, its social context, and the ideas of the designer.