The Elements of Design & Essence of Good Designing
Design is such an essential element of our life but we have blatantly ignored in building the basic foundation on this vital subject of life. A classic irony of living a fashionable lifestyle. Hence, we keep perilously faltering in designing the elementary products of life that can make us happy and bring about the harmony in our living.
It is the age of Millennials…
They have the perfect sense and pretty clear about the sensibilities. They have the balanced pride and keep aside the imbalance prejudices. Good design is their defined choice.
They want a subtle blend of passion in their statement of fashion. The design of the product they use has to soothe their eyes and stimulate their senses. The balance. The emphasis. They cut to the chase and they are clear. They are driven by impulsive buying behavior. They are intuitive in making quick decisions.
The watch they wear they keep a watch on the style. The sports shoe they wear they keep a tab on the substance.
The style where it matters. The substance where it counts.
The jeweler they wear they keep an eye on the elegance with equanimity. The style where it matters. The substance were it counts.
They need the harmony and the symphony in design of everything they use.
Everything around us is product of design.
Everything around us is a form of product. Just that the form and function varies. There is that little bit of design in everything we use. And every product we see or use has its own share of design elements. A product get tagged as good or bad depending on the composition of the design elements. The Apple iPhone is masterly designed high-end product highly successful. The Tata Nano mini car was a budget product was designed to serve the lower segment of the market failed to fructify its intended goals. The idea get converted into a good or a bad product depends so much on the way it gets designed.
Design is a discipline…
There are various elements of design that work together to make the design work for the intended purpose of design. Much like engineering, accounting or management it is a discipline. There is both an art and a science in putting together the design elements. This elements are the building blocks of the house of design. The house cannot be constructed without the right mix and match of these basic elements. The canvas becomes our plot of land where we need to construct our castle of imagination. Much like the ingredients of sand, stones, mud, cement, rods, bricks, woods to glass all add up to transform our castle of imagination into a house of reality, the elements of design has it’s crafted formula. To build a house of imagination on a clean canvas we need those design ingredients to cook well and get creatively served.
Design is an art…
There is that aesthetic appeal. The composition matters. Each elements of design has a definitive purpose to serve. Some are pretty evident and others are subtly experienced but together they make the design that decides the fate of a product.
There is a form and there is a function. The functional attributes has to align with the form and flow. It is the duality that determines the balance in a good design.
The design of a simple chair we sit sets the comfort we derive, improper design impacts our sitting position and posture. It is the ergonomics that engineers the curvature of the chair with the curves of our body and cushioning our back. It is the scientifically designing of a cot that can make our sleeping relaxed on the bed. Beyond the basics of life in sitting and sleeping, design has much more significant role to play in our life. The design of the phone we use. The design of the car we run. The design of the house we live. The design of the dress we wear. We take the design for granted. If we don’t question the assumptions of design, we become voluntarily used to a bad design. Not a good idea. The demand of good design is derived from the user experience. It is the intuitiveness of usage designed into a product by the designer that gives the intrinsic empowerment to the product.
Design is not about making a fashion statement. It is so much about the utility, the wearability and the viability of a good design. The moment we take the functional aspect and the commercial angle out of the design, it loses its fundamental dimension of feasibility.
Design is a science…
A plain canvas gets marked with a dot and it is the line that matters. We can create magic with the interplay of lines. The dotted lines. The fat lines. The curvature in lines. The crisscrossing of lines. The line that dominates. The line that fades away.
When a line enclose an area we have a shape. We have the geometric shapes like the square to rectangle to circle to triangles. And we have the natural shapes that we see all around us in the nature. The shape of a tree. The shape of a mountain. The shape of river. The shape of animal. The shape of a bird. And this goes on as nature is infinite in its scope and scale.
A canvas is a two-dimensional plane but we can create the impression of three dimensions based on the way we play with the space. The space on the canvas is divided into background, middle ground and the foreground. The space can also get categorized as positive and negative space. The space occupied by the subject gets the tag of positive space. The space left outside the occupancy of subject gets tagged as negative space. The creative craft lies in placing and playing with these positive and negative spaces on a canvas.
As we expand the area of our canvas we get to embrace the element of form. It literally takes the shape in the art in the canvas to the third dimension. It adds that added dimension of height to the width and depth of the object in the canvas. In work of art we can give that three-dimensional illusion through the use of technique known as perspective. Beyond the enclosed area, it closes with the height to depict the volume. A square is a two-dimensional shape and when we add shades, it becomes a box. A circle is a two-dimensional shape and when we add stuff, it becomes a sphere.
All this happens on the surface of the canvas and we just cannot ignore the material that matters on the surface. It is the texture of the surface. The surface quality. The smoothness or roughness of the surface. The silky and shiniest of the surface. The gloss finish to the mat finish. In other words it is both the physical properties and the perceived visual appeal. It gives that aesthetic lift to the work of art when placed on a textured surface. The same work gets different outlook when locked to different textured surface.
And there is this very interesting element known as value and it derives immense value when composition of an art gets evaluated. It is not the material or commercial value of the art that we are referring. It is the difference in degree of darkness and brightness of the work of art. The difference in value is what we term as contrast. Value is the degree of light. The lighter is the art work, the higher is the value of the art. Nothing to do with the price. It is just a form of language we use in design. Value is alternatively understood better with use of word tone. This element is used in conjunction with other elements and the combination of contrast sets the composition in light.
Until now we have constructed a house in black and white, nothing can take away the beauty of profound combination of this opposite twin colors. But then life has moved beyond the realms of this black and white movie. We are immersed with a fusion of dazzling colors in vibrant display. And yes, it is the color and the combination that makes the work of art fly with flying colors. The primary colors to the secondary colors. The blend of colors. There are these unique properties to color. First it is the hue, the name we give to a color. Second is the intensity, it is the vividness we give to the color. Third is the value, it is the shades or tint. Shades are created by adding black to a color. Tints are created by adding white to a color. It is the color that has so much play in the colorless of the art work or the product that comes out of a laboratory of design.
It isn’t only like the formula and equation of science where we get the desired output when we frame the input in a particular order. Just by knowing the order we get the desired result.
It is not the case with art work and designing a product, along with the work of science we need to see that the art is in sufficient sync. When we are conceptualizing an idea or visualizing a story in our imagination it is a budding product of inspiration or intuition. It is there in a state of fragmented abstraction or in a much more fractured frame of mind. This has no solid meaning or makes any sense for the outside world. At best when an artists does it we term it as abstract art and when a scientist does it we term it as conceptual supposition.
The process to translate an intangible idea into a tangible product. The concept to transport onto a canvas. It needs the right perspective to be put in place through the placement of these fundamental elements of design.
The type of line we need. The shape that will work the best. The space it needs to occupy. The form it best formulates. The value we intend. The texture best suited. The color that counts. The masterpiece of an artwork or a piece of product that transform the way we perceive the world or live our life in this world get craftily constructed through the eyes of these elements of design. It is the eye for detailing that matters so much more in designing. The ear to silently listen to the voice of users. The touch that can intuitively navigate the user to serve its intended purpose.
There is our senses which work with intensity and sensibility to decide whether the product connects with the users and is there the crafted resonance.
In the composition of designing a product or designing a piece of art there are principles that governs perfection or excellence. The emphasis that is given for form or aspect of the function. The balance that is achieved between the symmetrical dimensions and asymmetrical dimensions in the canvas or the product. The pattern that gets the identity. The depiction of rhythm in the canvas and the way parts of product moves. The light remains the main stay in designing an art on canvas and it is darkness that comes without the light. The juxtaposition of opposites is all about composition of contrast. Ultimately, it is the way the tenets of contradictions get playfully reconciled, and it is an interesting interplay between the unity and variety.
The heart of designing is so much in the art of crafting the elements of simplicity.
It is so well said the highest form of sophistication is hidden in the best form of simplicity. Also, in designing anything it is less that is more effective, chiseling out the fat and flap is challenging. The less of everything make the thing so special and knowing how to get the best design with the least inputs is every designer’s dream. It is understood in designing that the God resides in the details, and detailing is the holy grain for a great design.
The idea of design that goes with a good product or a masterpiece is quite different from the design we associate with the work of fashion.
In fashion the design idea is temporary and fades away pretty fast unlike in designing a product or a piece of art there is a passion which transcend time and become timeless.
Nihar R Pradhan