Monthly Archives: February 2018

aesthetics / ornament and crime

for Monday, 25 February
bring in ideas for wallpaper / room treatments


read two essays by Adolph Loos —
“Ornament and Crime (1908) and “The Poor Little Rich Man” (1900)
translations of both were distributed in class; different translations are available here

I also distributed Hal Foster, his elaboration of Loos in his “Design and Crime” (2002), which originally appeared as “Hey, That’s Me” — a review of Bruce Mau’s Life Style (Phaidon, 2000), in the London Review of Books 23:7 (5 April 2001): 13-14). Find the original LRB version — easier to read — here. This is optional, but quite interesting, reading.

5. aesthetics. form and function.


For Wednesday 21 February, read Ulrich chapter 7, Aesthetics.
What is the role of aesthetics in design? Where does it come into play? How does it relate to terms like elegance, or even sprezzatura?

Two recent essays by Frank Chimero might relate to this —
Every thing easy is hard again
The Good Room

and this, from computer scientist and writer David Gelernter * in Machine Beauty (1998) —

Beauty is important in engineering terms because software is so complicated. Complexity makes programs hard to build and potentially hard to use; beauty is the ultimate defense against complexity.

form and function

And be thinking about a room, in which wallpaper might play a role. What might that role be, for that particular room? What goes on in that room? Who uses it, and who does not? What is the energy level of the room?


For Wednesday, read Ulrich chapter 4, Exploration.
Farhard Manjoo, Welcome to the Post-Text Future
The New York Times. February 9, 2018

We reviewed our emblems this morning; for Wednesday, revise if appropriate, and write a paragraph (or so) on each of your emblems, discussing not so much what it means, as some of the potential meanings its particular algebra makes possible.

week 3a

We meet tomorrow (Wednesday 7 February) in the Design Seminar room, H-309.
We will be joined there at 9:30 am by David Buckley Borden, with whom we will discuss his work as an interdisciplinary artist and designer
Using an accessible combination of art and design, David promotes a shared environmental awareness and heightened cultural value of ecology. David’s place-based projects highlight both pressing environmental issues and everyday phenomena. Informed by research and community outreach, David’s work manifests in a variety of forms, ranging from site-specific landscape installations in the woods to data-driven cartography in the gallery.
from his website.

David Buckley Borden and Aaron M. Ellison (Senior Ecologist, Harvard Forest), will speak in H-201 at 11:30 am today, on their work at Harvard Forest — Hemlock Forest, Landscape Ecology, Art and Design.

Fast Forward Futures, installation at Harvard Forest, 4x4x26 feet, wood, acrylic paint, and assorted hardware, 2017. Collaborators: David Buckley Borden, Jack Byers, Dr. Aaron Ellison, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, and Salua Rivero.
“Fast Forward Futures,” installation at Harvard Forest, 4 x 8 x 26 feet, wood, acrylic paint, and assorted hardware, 2017. Collaborators: David Buckley Borden, Jack Byers, Dr. Aaron Ellison, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, and Salua Rivero.
source : Hemlock Hospice

Before David arrives, we will review our thoughts on Ulrich’s chapter 3 — Design Problem Definition — and, if time permits, give a collective thought to what we learned about emblems and emblematics on Monday.

To reiterate, we will create three emblems based on materials found in a single copy of The New York Times Magazine. These three emblems, each using the three-part (A-B-C) structure of motto, (allegorical) image and explication and/or other text providing closure. The basic algebra is that A + B + C = not D, but some quantity greater than the sum of those parts.

week three

Read, and be prepared to discuss, Ulrich’s chapter 2 — “Problem Solving and Design.”
Within the taxonomy of (six kinds of) problems, there are design problems, plus : selection problems, system improvement problems, tuning problems, crises, and wicked problems.
Ulrich has a bias in favor of “structured” and “deliberate” processes. Designers (and artists) may have a bias in favor of action, but we can think of “design problem definition” and “exploration” as somewhat unruly passages in a deliberate process.
The relationship of design with innovation (p21) is worth dwelling on (particularly “technology push”).
Think of “elegance” (p22) in terms of sprezzatura

John expects to talk briefly about emblematics as it relates to graphic design, with focus on combination of elements to make or investigate a point or topic. We talked briefly last Wednesday about Castiglione’s conception of sprezzatura — “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it” — and how it might relate to the designed object, and specifically to the vertu contained by that object.

We will also look more closely at recent work by David Buckley Borden, who will join us for part of our meeting on Wednesday 7 February.
Our questions for David may relate to his method as a designer/public artist, in terms of interventions in various situations of critical interest. His educational background is business school (entrepreneurship) and a graduate degree in landscape architecture.

further ahead,
we will be reading Ulrich’s chapter 3 — “Design Problem Definition” — and relating his ways of thinking about design, to the relationship between User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design, as introduced by Harshita Aora,
What’s the difference between UX and UI design?
(Aora is a “16 year old programmer and entrepreneur.”)

aside (and optional) —
Read Jason Farago’s review of First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone, an exhibit at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas —
Stone Age Tools, or Art? Or Both? : A Dallas show of Paleolithic artifacts proposes a new genealogy of aesthetic history.” in The New York Times (February 2, 2018) : C17
The essay explores the question of whether these objects are tools or “art”, and what is entailed in our thinking of them as either or both.