Exercises in perspective as seen in Andrea Pozzo, Rules and Examples Perspective Proper for Painters and Architects, etc, London, 1707, These plates, redrawn from an earlier Italian edition of a perspective manual by Baroque painter and architect Andrea Pozzo, showed designers and draftsmen how to create perspective drawings “Wholly free from the Confusion of Occult Lines. Design has always involved the ability to envision the final physical manifestation of design, but these exercises show that the refinement of the skill of mental projection is critical to building the design faculties that can be translated into realization in the physical world.
Josef Albers-inspired color studies. The phenomenological investigation of color – that is, Home design of testing how humans experience color – earlier explored by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his 1810 blog Theory of Colors, and developed in a systematic fashion by Josef Albers and Johannes Itten in the twentieth century – are enlightening and essential for visual literacy. Albers and Itten created visual analogues to highlight the differences of such qualities as depth, weight, mass, and surface appearance – evident in the illustrations below. It looks as if the blue squares and rectangles are all different, when in fact they are identical in size and color. A further conceptual leap – especially from 2-D to 3-D – is needed for the rigorous exploration of this phenomenon from the twentieth to the twenty-first century.
Explorations of phenomenal transparency in the second and third dimensions, studies by Shashi Caan with students over a period of two decades. In these compositional exercises, opaque color is used to create the appearance of translucen-cy, which is then taken into the third dimension for both literal and phenomenological layering and experimentation. Much further experimentation and exploration is needed for both the artful and masterful use of color in the built environment and its impact on human behavior.
Homage to the Square: Yellow Climate, Josef Albers, 1962. Courtesy of the private collection of Mr. Brent R. Harris. The artwork was made following Albers’ retirement from Yale University Art School, where he taught color as an integral component of design, and before the 1963 publication of Interaction of Color
An aesthetic object in its own right but also as an assemblage of the various crafts into a single new trade. Gropius’ 1919 Bauhaus manifesto spoke of the need to restore this lost unity of the building arts: “The complete building is the ultimate aim of the visual arts. Their highest function was once the decoration of buildings.37
Gropius, an architect, claimed that designers could successfully manipulate any subject at any scale, since their skills were interchangeable at any level. In his 1947 essay “Is there a Science of Design? he wrote: “The process of designing a great building or a simple chair differs only in degree, not in principle.38 Although this sounds feasible in theory, it doesn’t hold true for twenty-first-century practice. Bauhaus teaching integrated theory and abstract ideas, and also focused on the materials and methods for manifesting those ideas. Almost a hundred years later, we are far removed from this way of designing,
And the divide between thinking about design and the hands-on making of it is bigger than it ever was. This has been augmented by the change in the designer’s representational tools, which are now primarily technological (and computer aided) with decreased emphasis on traditional hand – eye skills. So while today’s designers still have to be able to manipulate scale, subject matter, and function as well as the related materialities, their interaction with tools, and the practicalities of fabricating or building have been completely altered. This is gradually being remedied by reintroducing fabrication in teaching, using sophisticated cutting tools. Whether this restores knowledge of materials and three-dimensional perception, or whether it leads to an even greater abstraction remains to be seen.
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