ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
ELEMENTS OF DESIGN
All articles are not meant to be significant; at times it can be refreshing to deal with trivia. To touch trivia and to build something out of it really can be intriguing, challenging the intellect with a nice little tricky nudge, and the result is this ‘elements of design’. Honestly, right at this juncture I do not know what I am talking about.
Designs in real life are omnipresent everywhere, almost like the surreal God always telling us to conceptualize some synergy with life around. Like this God, Design is also present everywhere in different forms. In perceptible terms some can rightfully infer that this ‘Design’ itself is ‘God’, as it is in design the act of God is most visibly manifested.
Can the life of a human being be a design-or even the expressions of a society be just a design of more complex dimensions? Well, certainly yes, even in apparent absence of any ulterior motif, design just goes on playing its own game with its own set of rules. Are we then just puppets tied with strings all over? Maybe, but if so, then the phrase ‘no strings attached’ becomes mathematically a non viable concept. So, guys, think twice before embarking on a blissful ‘no strings attached’ life. Oh no, I also had that delightful phase in my life, when I truly believed that I was the boss of all the actions and reactions in my life, the concept was never the less transformed to the ‘strings attached’ phase in later stages of life!
Being in Santiniketan, it is impossible to go for some discussion on industrial or elite fashion design, though one can perhaps become a bit serious about architecture or interior design. I would however prefer to focus on nature exclusively because it is in abundant supply in and around Santiniketan.
Of all things, in all maneuvers in Nature, fair amount of Mathematics (for simplification one may call it Geometry) is involved. The problem for us is that often that mathematics is not very well defined, except perhaps at the molecular level in Physics and Chemistry. Nano science is effectively a design exercise to realign the forces of nature as per convenience. Over an one hour talk over telephone which led to postponement of dinner at both ends, Sukumar Roy (our ex-student & DGM,R&D,BHEL) explained to me with his customary philosophical fillers that nano materials are highly toxic to human bodies as those materials has been created by opposing the very design pattern followed by nature. In Nano tech we essentislly redesign a material layer by later or molecule by molecule opposing the laws of nature, making the material highly inconsistent with rules of nature leading to a high level of toxicity. In effect then design can also be a parameter to decide the toxicity of a material! Subsequently what actually happened that Sukumar’s one hour conversation over telephone with me was abruptly cut off probably because from each end our wives refused to tolerate any more nonsense around dinner time and we had to adhere to ‘the standards of designs set by our wives in our family life’. I hope, Sukumar is reading this article, and will not refute my observation! So, you see, design is prevalent everywhere in life, there is just no escape from it!
To be a perfect man essentially means a huge amount of balance in all his activities. To be a perfect artist it would mean a perfectly balanced aesthetic sense, where all philosophies of life can converge to find an expression. The nature, for instance remains perfectly balanced, all the individual forces converge to form apparently singular expressions in perfect consonance with everything else. This ‘consonance’ in essence is the spirit on which design is build up, things last- if not for ever, then for a sufficiently expressive period to serve the purpose of the design.
Now, I think either I am talking crap, or becoming too philosophical, or I am just plain not too sure about what to articulate! This is certainly a difficult article according to its treatment of the subject. If it was a research article, or just even a school project paper, plenty of references could have been cited. But perhaps there is a ‘design’ behind all this!
In practical terms any aberration from ‘design’ is generally called an expression of art. Forms which are repetitive, and which can be reproduced are not considered to be a work of ‘art’; and falls under the category of ‘design or craft’ as per art appreciation language. I have a huge antipathy to this concept; because if that is so everything under the sun would become a work of craft (as per designing norms) as formations in nature tends to build on tiny blocks of initial designs by plenty of repetitions. Even the human beings are built block by block from its genetic codes. So according to the art appreciation logic the human beings themselves would actually become works of craft, some kind of repetitive formation on cells following a certain pattern of design! In fact the whole nature might just be a design then, according to art appreciation language, and not exactly a great work of art by the creator!
So, separating art form design, or vice-versa, can be a tough task for human intellect.
Human intellect- yes, now we are in an undefined and mostly uncharted territory. The summary of human intellect today however leads us nowhere.Once societies were nicely patterned (or say designed) according to religion, later Marxism patterned society on economical bases. Today in spite of all the glory of freedom Capitalism is just a mathematical pattern to maximize profit. Really? I would rather term Capitalism as a mathematical tool of maximizing production at lowest cost. Though debate is welcome on this, maybe both phrases are the same statement in different forms; but I still feel both are not same as in spirit as ‘there is no light’ and ‘it is dark everywhere’ means two different aspect of realization to me. Maybe the economist in our fold could share a lot more light on this!
But, the relevant point for us is, whether it is Religion, Marxism or Capitalism, they just reflect the power of design on our society and conscience. And in spite of intellect, and interpretation of art, it seems it is the ‘design’ which rules the supreme.
I, at times wonder at the great preoccupation of the intellect of Santiniketan in earlier years to express in forms of design. The amount of joy expressed in such activities, some of which are still cherished in Santiniketan as heritage legacy, was probably a realization of alignment with nature around Santiniketan. Just this sense of alignment resulted in development of the unique Santiniketan-i style of expressions which we all cherish to date. Interestingly, it is this ‘design’ which kind of coalesced the early society of Santiniketan, in the style front as well as in the intellectually synergistic plane where everyone could share his expressions. So, design in Santiniketan, is a very important aspect to study in details.
It is a wonder how I have gone through all these sentences of this article, phrase by phrase, all in a single stint, in a stoic Saturday afternoon of March. Santiniketan can be quite an interesting place to instigate such ideas. In spite of Santiniketan and the hovering presence of Rabindranath Tagore, I still do not know how to appreciate designs which spontaneously erupt all around me. Shall we take designs to be the manifestation of dear Almighty? Or shall we try to explore ‘Nirvana’, i.e. the formless summit in the philosophical plane? Or shall we try to dwell on the idea of ‘Zero’ by the mathematicians to negate all designs? As a corollary, can ‘zero’ be a mathematical design in itself, when mathematics after all acknowledges design? Then science (Phy, Chem or Bio) never deals with non-existence or zero or whatever that is; and being a student of science shall I try to decipher ‘design’ as the ultimate expression of creation?
Well, it is now for you folks to ponder!