Thursday, December 28, 2006

Design in Essence

The creed for the uninitiated.

The first principal of visual communication, is that aesthetics are secondary to purpose. A design is distinct from decoration in that it carries meaning. It is an answer to a particular set of problems, employing aesthetics to maximize it's potency. Basically, it is better to have a conceptually sound but poorly crafted solution then a meaningless visual marvel.

But what about the graphics? It used to be, that the secrets of the craft were kept better then the most dire of political affairs. An apprentice would come to learn them after years of laborious chores under a harsh abusive master. The tools of the trade were passed down in generations along with a complicated, secretive lingo. The simplest of actions were injested with rituals and wrapped in obscure metaphors. Enter – the age of information. Millions of articles, thousands of sites, hundreds of books on any given topic of any given trade, can be found in an instant by anyone. But we, have not changed. There is still a mischievous smirk at the edge of the designers mouth. We know something the rest of the world does not. There is an unspoken creed, by which we have gauged our peers for thousands of years, and have ensured our survival in the future.

This secret is the source of our power, a reason for casual elitism and vain pride. To know it, is to be a designer. The secret is this: There is an underlying harmonic relationship that is not affected by time, location or culture, a quality that cannot be captured in diagrams or described in words. A variation from this platonic form, brings irritation, an almost physical discomfort, to the viewer. A design perfection is measured by the suffering it causes. There are no rules, devices, or guides essential to design. They are merely ways to organize our thoughts, secondhand clutches. The illusive harmonic relationship is not a result of following the rules, but vice versa. The best designers are those who suffer from the smallest imperfections. An Ideal designer would not be satisfied with anything at all. How do we learn to recognize this quality? Time and observation – are the key components. We are all born with a latent appreciation of harmony, but the ways of reaching it by the most optimal routs must be learned. This is where the "rules of design" come in handy. Through careful application, and continuous analysis, one attunes their vision gaining increased sensitivity.

So, there we find ourselves – a guildless lot. Our secrets squandered away, our tools in every home, at the fingertips of every child, our argot diffused to a handful of words. But our resolve is as strong as ever, and our future is bright, for we are protected by the magic, deeper then the carving on the stone table. Amen.

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