To think about design, you need a vocabulary to describe the object. This needs to be combined with a structure of principles. What follows is an outline to structure your thinking about design. This is based on the writing of Burton Wasserman in Spark the Creative Flame, Making the Journey from Craft to Art, by Paul J Stankard, 2013, pp. 25-27.
First there is the language to structure the conversation about design. The elements of this are “… point, line, plane, texture, colour, pattern, density, interval, … space, … light, mass, and volume”
Then there are principles of good design. They relate to:
- · Unity – all the elements form a whole.
- · Balance – note, not only symmetry, but a distribution of elements that allows each piece to appear to be in its proper place. Imbalance provides dissonance and tension which can be the purpose of the piece, of course.
- · Rhythm – this can be repetition with or without variation. This provides energy, animation to the piece.
- · Emphasis – or contrast between a main element and the rest. This can be size, colour or placing.
- · Harmony – all the elements work together to form a whole.
These five principles of design together with the vocabulary of elements assist your critical thinking about expressing your design and realising it in the best way you can. This thinking can be applied usefully to the critical appreciation of others’ works.
I have grouped the elements according to the principles that seem most applicable as follows. This organisation is not prescriptive. It merely helped me to think about using the language when viewing my own or others' work.
Vocabulary Principles of Good Design