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Notes and Quotes
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A few words of wisdom and some interesting comments to inspire! If you would like to add a quote or comment, please email [email protected]. Entries do not have to be from designers but should be relevant and stimulate. Any addition is subject to approval.

| Antonio Gaudi | Francis D.K. Ching | Milton Glaser | Publications | Quotations |

Words by Antonio Gaudi

"Light and shadow
The outward and inward elements must be combined, making each convex element, meaning those exposed to the open light, be complemented by a concave element, in this case a shadow. The illuminated element must be very carefully thought out in its details because this is the part that sings out while the shaded part may lack details.

Balance and contrast
For harmony, or balance, contrast is needed; light and shade; continuity and discontinuity, concavity and convexity, etc.

The essential quality of a work of art is harmony. In sculptural works, harmony derives from the light that gives it relief and decorates it.

Electric light and sunlight
The amount of light should be just right, not too much, not too little, since having too mush or too little light can both cause blindness […] An abundance of electric light runs the risk of being pretentious since , however bright is may be, if we compare it with sunlight it becomes laughable. 45 degrees is the angle that best defines bodies and shows us the form."

(Source: Gaudi x Gaudi - Antonio G. Funes, Josef Liz, Pere Vivas - Triangle Postals s. l. 2001)

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Francis D.K. Ching on the psychology of forms

"The circle is a compact, inverted shape which has as its natural focus its centerpoint. It represents unity, continuity and economy of form. A circular shape is normally stable and self-centering in its environment. When associated with other lines and shapes, however, a circle can appear to have apparent motion.

The triangle represents stability [...] when resting on one of its sides. When tipped to stand on one of its points, however, the triangular shape becomes dynamic. It can exist in precarious state of balance or imply motion as it tends to fall over onto one of its sides. The dynamic quality of a triangular shape is also due to the angular relationship of its three sides. Because these angles can vary, triangles are more flexible than squares and rectangles. In addition, triangles can be conveniently combined to form any number of square , rectangular or other polygonal shapes.

The square represents the pure and the rational. The regularity of its four right angles contributes to its regularity and visual clarity. A square shape has no preferred or dominant direction. Like the triangle, the square is a stable, tranquil figure when resting on one of its sides, but becomes dynamic when standing on one of its corners."

(Source: Interior Design Illustrated, Francis D.K. Ching, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1987

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Extracts from an interview with Milton Glaser

On the subject of clarity of communication, would you say this is something which is missing from much of today's design?

"One must understand this relationship between clarity and ambiguity, because it is an essential component of communication. You can't make everything explicit to people. There has to be work for the mind to do. Often the communication is not immediately clear but becomes clear quickly. That duration between seeing and understanding, is always what you play with in communicating ideas."

Do you think that there should be an initial 'surprise' in order for that communication to be effective?

"Well you would like that to happen, but it depends on what you can do to make people pay attention. In a culture like ours, everything is screaming for our attention, so at a certain point we become immune to the screaming. The question then is what do you do to penetrate people's immunity?"

As a designer are you still constantly learning?

"You should try to surprise yourself as you work, so that you don't know all the answers in advance and simply repeat them. I have an approach I've been using throughout my life, which is to start first with the nature of the audience, second with the nature of what you want that audience to do, and then third, the methodology by which you move that audience to action. I am a non-specialist. For professional reasons, the field is one of professional practice, which means that you diminish the possibility of error by knowing everything in depth about one subject. My aim is to have a broader view of design. I am certainly not unique in this way, but I like to think that it is possible to operate in many areas of your interest leads you that way. For example, I am very interested in the design of restaurants, so I've designed them. And I've designed supermarkets - Which is usually thought of as a highly specialised activity, reserved for those who have the credential to do it. I felt that it was possible to do some of this work without credentials. I have been opportunistic and through the years have sort of blurred the distinction a little between professional practice in architecture and product design, and interior design and graphic design, and magazine design."

What advice would you give to today's students and the younger generation of designers?

"I would say: take responsibility for what you do. Design is an activity which affects human consciousness, and the way people think and act. It also affects their value system, and you should take that seriously. I mean you don't want to hurt people, you don't want to injure people, you don't want to misrepresent things, you don't want to lie to them. In my view, the same principles involved in good citizenship should be applied to being a good designer."

Drawing has always been an important part of your work, but is it a skills which fewer designers possess today?

"My feeling about drawing is that I have deeply invested in it because so much of my work is characterised by it, and I have used the skill as a means of developing a personal idiom which is harder to do through design alone. Although many designers have found another personal voice without using drawing, I feel it is at the root of everything, because it is essentially an intellectual activity. People think it has something to do with the way your hand operates, but drawing is a decision by the brain to represent reality through any kind of means you choose. There doesn't seem to be an alternative way to develop a neurological path from brain to hand without drawing. You can't do it by sitting and thinking about it, so what happens is that the body itself is involved in the thought process. [...] I think drawing is one of the instruments by which the brain changes its perception of reality, and it also develops a kind of acuity in terms of colour, from, shape and proportion. [...]"

(Source: milton glaser: always one jump ahead, Patrick Argent, csd magazine, aug/sept 1999)

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"Design makes its major contribution by adding value to a product or service - value that typically becomes a core part of the customer/user's experience."

(Source: intra - Profit by design, p.66, February 2002)

"The soul needs spiritual life, the conscience needs ethics, the mind needs love, the body requires well-being. [...] The fundamental aspirations of the individual are alimentary, sexual and social. To fulfill the desire for wealth, procreation and reputation is the very source of happiness."

(Source: The complete Kama Sutra - Mallanaga Vatsyayana, Alain Danielou - Inner Traditions International 1995)

"Gehry's buildings usually start with scribbled sketches, a squiggle of lines that resembles nothing much at all. Just impressions you think. The comes the models: paper crudely taped together, crumpled aluminium foil, still squiggles, but now three-dimensional. All right, you say, he is just playing around. He can't be serious. But these very models are translated into construction drawings - squiggles and all - and into finished building.'

(Source: The smart man from Hollywood: the architecture of Frank O. Gehry, Witold Rybczynski, Times Literary supplement, 1999)

"You need to have a vision, you have to believe in something. If you don't you're measuring it out by the meter and it's meaningless. [...] For me, the process starts as an idea in my head. Ideas come from your emotional and philosophical reaction to the things going on around you every day - you have to look and listen and think about what you're seeing and hearing."

(Source: Peter Saville, What's the big idea?, OM, 22 September 2002, p.23)

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"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop."Confucius

"Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes."Confucius

"It's not what you learn that is important but what you do with it." Robin Mace

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece." John Ruskin

"Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinary well" Henri David Thoreau

"The scary fact is that many of our dreams have come true" Charles Eames

"Innovate only at the last resort" Charles Eames

"You usually find that is better than what looks good. You know, the looks good can change, but what works, works" Ray Eames

"It doesn't matter if you're designing a coffee cup or a 25,000sqm building - the principles of design are the same; it's just a matter of scale." Jan Kaplicky

"Your mind works best in the same way as a parachute works best - when it's open" Ivan Shaw

"Ideas won't keep, something must be done about them." Alfred North Whitehead

"Design unlocks innovation and turns ideas into reality." John Sorell

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

"Design is not just about survival and profitability, it's about making a difference - and it ought to be for the better." Charles Handy

"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of shore for a very long time." André Gide

"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." Michael Jordan

"I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow." Woodrow Wilson

"The esssence of the beautiful is unity in variety." Felix Mendelssohn

"Work that does not spring from the heart has no roots, and will of certainty wither and perish" Lord Leighton

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