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Association: a Fundamental Element of Design.

March 1, 2018

Is the message in the image?
Sometimes words can add nothing.  The entire message is actually in the image.  At first, I thought that this was one of those times, and if I am brutally honest, I was literally dumbfound by the strangeness of the designs.  Who does this kind of thing, and why? I could even find some functional value in the house with the solar collectors on the roof but the other building leaves me clueless.  Maybe they were trying to send some light in through the little transom window at the back of the funnel?  If so, it is not clear why this would not also be true of the pair of main windows with the built in awning, which produces the exact opposite effect.

When I found out that there was actually a whole row of these funnel houses – they are really funnel entries in some type of commercial building, but you get the idea – I was compelled to comment.  Somehow the repetition and implied association started to lead to other images, none of them have much to do with what is typically thought of as aesthetically pleasing.

Or is it in the association?
So if not for the aesthetic value then why bring this silly place up at all?  Why not just call it an anomaly and move on?  It’s because anomalies often invoke clear associations which manifest in very realistic images of events, places, and things.  As most any design student could tell you, this can be instructive and reveal what people really think about the buildings in their world.  It is a fundamental part of design.  If a designer understands the visual prompts or associations that are part of the psychology of his or her client, then he or she is better able to provide a pleasing design.  It is why many of my projects start with what I call an “image dump.”  The client is encouraged to put pictures that they like in one pile and ones they don’t in another.  There is no constraint on what images they use, puppies, food, roofing materials, all are good.  We then discuss them together one by one.  The results are usually enlightening, often surprising, and mostly useful.

Find the images used in this post here and here.

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