Abandon your design bias

Escape your bias, or you will cultivate monotony.  That is the death knell for designers and their clients.  Sure, we all want “Special.”  To blur the lines of design archetypes and fundamentals then bring them back into focus.  To ignore those fundamentals, we must embrace what is possible.  But how, exactly, do we achieve this? It is a question creators ask everyday and not just artists. Overlap art forms to attain a new version of “special.”  Blend art styles to develop your craft.  Could it be true that poetry and interior design are the same process?  I believe so. And if this is the case, is it possible for each art to inform the other?  The answer is undoubtedly “YES.”  All art overlaps.  All art is composition and details.

Some might be questioning my supposition.  Try this: “All art requires a sense of surprise and revelation.”  All art communicates.  What are you choosing to communicate?  In design, we must reinvent ourselves.  I believe we can do this most readily by referencing various art forms.  As mentioned, all art is a matter of composition.  Several considerations go into the composition of any art form:  light, line, form, texture, space, balance, color, pattern, proportion, and scale.

As many know, I am a poet, artist, college professor, and object designer.  I design objects weekly for StyleCraft.  Below is a poem published in The Shore Poetry journal (theshorepoetry.org).  After you read the poem, I will argue that poetry composition and elements can inform interior design.

Minus Eternity

Eleven hundred miles, eighteen hours, 

and the waves of yesterday spread bare 

in the sun.  I am again in love with the funky, 

warped spine of the space in my vehicle.  

At escape velocity, there are no dried crops

curled in the sun, rusted-shut tractors in the pitch, 

or turned-up dirt of a low-slung 

late September field— I hardly recognize myself 

in the breeze.  What is it to lose a memory?

It is the half-life of an abandoned house:  

a native land I never meant to leave.

In time, the blunt tempest will take what remains 

of our crumpled home, and exhale.  

See Also

Even the blades of the windmills grow rust 

along their spines, and eventually, 

some of them forget to spin.

I first examine the subject when writing a poem or designing an object.  What am I producing?  Let’s say it is a chair.  There have been so many chairs designed that the count feels like infinity.  How do I make my chair different?  I go to a poem or a painting.  I blur the lines between genres.  A successful poem includes all five senses and the most essential sense of “special.”  Special is a quality that allows for many meanings and intuition.  I decided where to set the lines, what to stress, and what to blend.  A line break creates a cesura, a pause.  I want my reader’s eyes to rest momentarily at the end of a line and then be surprised when the eye moves to the following line of meaning.  The line is part of the poem and a statement on its own.  We do the same thing when we design an object or a room.  

Texture!  The visual and felt texture is tremendous in poetry and object design.  How does the object play with the eye?  The visual creates a feeling.  That feeling is enhanced through touch.  Yes, poetry allows readers to visualize and feel the words’ texture.  I can change one word in a poem, and the entire poem slants— it feels different.  One word!  We can shift one element of an object or shift one component of a room of design, and the entire room vibrates at a different frequency.  

A good poem allows the eye and meaning to rest and shift forward.  The same is true for three-dimensional proportion and scale.  How long is the poem?  I enjoy 14–20-line poems.  How do you design your object or space?  Do you use large objects or small ones?  Is the ceiling low-slung or lofted?  Do you have a sliver of a window that frames the river on the property, or is the window large and voluminous?  The shape of a room and the shape of a poem guide the eye and the options of interpretation and rest.  These dramatic or subtle visual pauses in an object, room, painting, or poem create a form of meditation in space.  

It is a given that color and pattern are inherent properties of object design and poetry.  Color and pattern influence the senses, which translates into feeling and intuition.  We all love to feel.  Make us FEEL.  To do this, we let go of our BIAS and jump to other art forms for inspiration.

Next time you feel caught in a bias, consider another art form.  How does that form implement the basics of design:  light, line, form, texture, space, balance, color, pattern, proportion, and scale?  Consider the poem.  Turn your bias upside down and create poetry with your object; create poetry with your interior design.  You will have more fun and generate special surprises and unique moments.  Onward!

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