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 In Design Matters

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Eye-catching. The form of a piece is what usually captures your attention from across a room.

Early 20th-century filmmakers used time-lapse photography to dazzle audiences with never-before-seen images of flowers emerging and bursting into bloom. Critics with Victorian sensibilities objected that something so intimate should best be left hidden. Sometimes a well-designed piece of furniture can feel like it holds on to its secrets. We sense there are many hidden design lessons if we could only see them. A good place to start is to learn how to recognize and visualize forms.

Corinthian capital. A few simple shapes combine to create this icon of Western design.

A form is a combination of simple shapes that together make up a composition. A form is what catches your eye from a distance; it’s the “bones,” or what some refer to as the “lines of a piece.” When I study a design I start by looking at it from across the room and take in the overall form.


 

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