"We have long been familiar with the power of the Chinese to balance colours, but we were not so well acquainted with their power of treating purely ornamental or conventional forms ; and in the chapter in the Grammar of Ornament on Chinese Ornament I was led, from my then knowledge, to express the opinion that the Chinese had not the power of dealing with conventional ornamental form : but it now appears that there has been a period in which a School of Art existed in China of a very important kind. We are led to think that this art must in some way have had a foreign origin; it so nearly resembles in all its principles the art of the Mohammedan races, that we may presume it was derived from them. It would be no difficult task to take a work of ornament of this class, and, by simply varying the colouring and correcting the drawing, convert it into an Indian or Persian composition. There is of course, in all these works, something essentially Chinese in the mode of rendering the idea, but the original idea is evidently Mohammedan. The Moors of the present day decorate their pottery under the same instinct, and follow the same laws as the Chinese obeyed in their beautiful enamelled vases. The Moorish artist takes a rudely-fashioned pot or other object, and by a marvellous instinct divides the surface of the object, 'by spots of colour, into triangles of proportionate area, according to the form and size of the object; these triangles are then crossed by others."
(Owen Jones, 1867)
Owen Jones (1867). "Examples of Chinese Ornament Selected from Objects in the South Kensington Museum and Other Collections: By Owen Jones. One Hundred Plates", S. & T. Gilbert, 4 Copthall Buildings, E.C. Back of the Bank of England.
"Architecture as a material practice is predominately based on an approach to design that is characterised by prioritising the elaboration of form over its subsequent materialisation. Since the Renaissance the increasing division between processes of design and making has led to the age-long development and increasing dependence on representational tools intended for explicit, scalar geometric descriptions that at the same time serve as instructions for the translation from drawing to building. Inevitably, and with few exceptions, even in today's digital practice architects embrace design methods that epitomize the hierarchical separation of form definition and materialisation.
The research of the Institute for Computational Design explores an alternative, morphogenetic approach to design that unfolds morphological complexity and performative capacity from material constituents without differentiating between formation and materialisation processes. This requires an understanding of form, material, structure and environment not as separate aspects, but rather as complex interrelations that are embedded in and explored through integral computational processes.
The notion of material system constitutes one central aspect of this research. Material system does not only refer to the material constituents of a building alone, but rather describes, in a system-theoretical sense, the complex reciprocity between materiality, form, structure and space, the related processes of production and assembly, and the multitude of performative effects that emanate from the interaction with environmental influences and forces. This conceptualization of material systems enables the utilization of computational design processes. The ability of computation to simultaneously do both, stochastically derive and systemically process complex datasets within a defined or evolving constraint space, can be utilized to explore a material system's performative capacity within its materially determined limits. Furthermore, continuously informing the form generation with different modes of computational analysis enables a direct link between the ontogeny, the history of structural changes of an individual, and its interaction with external forces and energy respectively, that is its ecological embedding. This enables to conceive of material systems as the synergetic outcome of calibrating and balancing multiple influencing variables and divergent design criteria, which always already include the interaction with the system-external environment. The resultant environmental modulations can now be understood as highly specific patterns in direct relation to the material interventions from which they originate.
The design of space, structure and climate can be synthesized in one integral design process."
(Achim Menges, Achimmenges.net)
"Figuration itself is not inconsistent with the Modernist tradition since, even the most abstract of Modernist work makes references to things outside itself, yet, of all the features in Tomkins' work, the distinctive way in which he uses figuration seems to set it apart from the rest. Giacometti-like (although informed by Picasso and Matisse) troupes of figures edge around the paintings always playing some formal role but never solely in virtue of their form, scale, colour or location. Typically they point, both literally and figuratively, to formal elements in the Works, including, curiously enough, each other - but they also fly on trapezes, hold safety nets, dance and strike poses. None of the figures, however, are merely incidental to formal issues and although interdependent with them they have, as well, a life of their own. This invites interpretation, at least to the extent that we find ourselves reflecting on how and why the figures appear to us as they do - like mute vandevillians whose master, Tomkins, having rendered them onto some flattened proscenium, orchestrates their participation in a frozen theatrical tragicomic tableau. However, we cannot know the purpose of such entertainments beyond their capacity to intrigue and amuse us."
(Ted Bracey, 1987)
2) Ted Bracey (1987). Robert McDougall Art Gallery [now Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu].
"The concept of Universal Design goes beyond the mere provision of special features for various segments of the population. Instead it emphasises a creative approach that is more inclusive, one that asks at the outset of the design process how a product, graphic communication, building, or public space can be made both aesthetically pleasing and functional for the greatest number of users. Designs resulting from this approach serve a wider array of people including individuals with temporary or permanent disabilities, parents with small children, and everyone whose abilities change with age.'"
Jane Alexander, Strategies for teaching universal design, taken from Hubert Froyen, Crisp &Clear, Number 4, European Institute of Design and Disability, 2000.
"As head of design at Braun, the German consumer electronics manufacturer, DIETER RAMS (1932-) emerged as one of the most influential industrial designers of the late 20th century by defining an elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual language for its products.
Good design is innovative.
Good design makes a product useful.
Good design is aesthetic.
Good design makes a product understandable.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Good design is honest.
Good design is long-lasting.
Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
Good design is environmentally friendly.
Good design is as little design as possible.
Copyright Dieter Rams, amended March 2003 and October 2009
These ten principles defined Dieter Rams' approach to 'good design'. Each of the hundreds of products he developed during forty years with Braun, was unerringly elegant and supremely versatile. Units were made in modular sizes to be stacked vertically or horizontally. Buttons, switches and dials were reduced to a minimum and arranged in an orderly manner. Rams even devised a system of colour coding for Braun's products, which were made in white and grey. The only splash of colour was the switches and dials.
Rams' objective was to design useful products which would be easy to operate. Yet he achieved much more by dint of the formal elegance and technical virtuosity of his work. Rams' designs always looked effortless with an exquisite simplicity borne from rigorous tests and experiments with new materials and an obsessive attention to detail to ensure that each piece appeared flawlessly coherent. Dieter Rams remains an enduring inspiration for younger designers, notably Jonathan Ive and Jasper Morrison, who have acknowledged his influence in their work at Apple and Rowenta respectively."
(Design Museum, UK)