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Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial Design

Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial Design

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Published by Pankaj Jedermann

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Published by: Pankaj Jedermann on Jan 10, 2012
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12/03/2012

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This chapter illustrates that architects and industrial designers adhere to
distinctive design values, though individual designers differ as to which
values they choose to “believe” and/or emphasize. This chapter demonstrates
that the different design values tend to have a considerable history and can be
found in numerous design movements. The influence that each design value
has had on design movements and individual designers has varied throughout
history. In addition, there are differences with regards to the heydays of
design values’ influence in the architectural and industrial design world.

The distinctive design values presented in this chapter have been organised
into the five main categories: Aesthetic Design Values, Social Design Values,
Environmental Design Values, Traditional Design Values and Gender-based
Design Values. The first sub-category, Aesthetic Design Values, contains
seven values. The first value in this category is the design value of Artistic
aspects and Self-expression. It is characterised by a belief that individual self-
expression—or one’s inner spiritual self and creative imagination, inner
resources and intuition—should be utilised and/or be the base used when
designing. These sentiments are closely linked to a number of artistic values
found in movements like Expressionism and the Avant-garde art. Thus, this
design value is closely related to abstract forms and expression, personal
creative liberty, elitism and being ahead of the rest of society.

The second value introduced in the Aesthetic Design Values category is the
Spirit of the Time design value, which is based on the conception that every
age has a certain spirit or set of shared attitudes that should be utilised when
designing. The Spirit of the Times denotes the intellectual and cultural
climate of a particular era, which can be linked to an experience of a certain
worldview, sense of taste, collective consciousness and unconsciousness.
Thus “form expression” which can be found, to some extent in the “air” of a

given time and each generation, should generate an aesthetic style that
expresses the uniqueness related to that time.

The third value presented in the same category is the design value of
Structural, Functional and Material Honesty. Structural Honesty is linked to
the notion that a structure shall display its “true” purpose and not be
decorative etc. Functional honesty is linked to the idea that a building or
product form shall be shaped on the basis of its intended function, often
known as “form follows function”. Material honesty implies that materials
should be used and selected on the bases of their properties, and that the
characteristics of a material should influence the form it is used for. Thus, a
material must not be used as a substitute for another material as this subverts
the materials “true” properties and it is “cheating” the spectator.

The fourth value introduced in the aesthetic category is the design value of
Simplicity and Minimalism, which is based on the idea that simple forms, i.e.
aesthetics without considerable ornaments, simple geometry, smooth surfaces
etc., represents forms which are both truer to “real” art and represents “folk”
wisdom. This design value implies that the more cultivated a person
becomes, the more decoration disappears. In addition, it is linked to the
notion that simple forms will free people from the everyday clutter, thus
contribute to tranquillity and restfulness.

The fifth value covered in the aesthetic category is the design value of
Nature, which is based on the idea that nature (i.e. all sorts of living
organisms, numerical laws etc) can provide inspiration, functional clues and
aesthetic forms that architects and industrial designers should use as a basis
for designs. Designs based on this value tend to be characterised by free-
flowing curves, asymmetrical lines and expressive forms. This design value
can be summed up in “form follows flow” or “of the hill” as oppose to “on
the hill”.

The sixth value presented in the same category is the design value of Classic,
Traditional and Vernacular aesthetics. This value is based on a belief that a
building and product should be designed from timeless principles that
transcend particular designers, cultures and climates. Implicit in this design
value is the notion that if these forms are used, the public will appreciate a
structure’s timeless beauty and understand immediately how to use a given
building or product. This design value is also linked to regional differences
i.e. varying climate etc. and folklore cultures, which creates distinctive
aesthetical expressions.

The seventh value and the final value introduced in the Aesthetic Design
Values category is the design value of Regionalism. It states that building—

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and to some degree products—should be designed in accordance with the
particular characteristics of a specific place. In addition, it is linked to the aim
of achieving visual harmony between a building and its surroundings, as well
as achieving continuity in a given area. In other words, it strives to create a
connection between past and present forms of building. Finally, this value is
also often related to preserving and creating regional and national identity.

The second sub-category of values is the Social Design Values category
consisting of four design values. The first value in this category is the design
value of Social change, which can be described as a commitment to the
change society for the “better” through architecture and industrial design.
This design value is closely connected and associated with political move-
ments and subsequent building programs. Architects and industrial designers
that are committed to the design value of social change often see their work
as a tool for transforming the built environment and those who live in it.

The second value introduced in the same category is the design value of
Consultation and Participation, it is based on a belief that it is beneficial to
involve stakeholders in the design process. This value is connected to a belief
that user involvement leads to: (1.) meeting social needs and an effective use
of resources, (2.) influencing in the design process as well as awareness of
the consequences etc. and (3.) providing relevant and up-to-date information
for designers.

The third value presented in the Social Design Values category is the design
value of Crime prevention. This design value is based on the belief that the
built environment can be manipulated to reduce crime levels, which is
attempted accomplished through three main strategies that are: (1.) defensible
space, (2.) crime prevention through environmental design and (3.) situ-
ational crime prevention.

The fourth and last value covered in this category is the design value of “third
world”, which is based on an eagerness to help developing countries through
design (i.e. a response to the needs of the poor and destitute within the “Third
World”). This design value implies that social and economic circumstances
found in the Third World necessitate the development of special solutions,
which are distinct from what the same architects and industrial designers
would recommend for the developed world.

The third main sub-category of values is the Environmental Design Values
category consisting of three design values. The first value in this category is
the Green design and Sustainability value (i.e. the “Green” design value).
This value is based on a belief that a sustainable and/or environmentally
friendly building approach is beneficial to users, society and future

generations. Key concepts within this design value are: energy conservation,
resource management, recycling, cradle-to-cradle, toxic free materials etc.

The second value introduced in this category is the design value of Re-use
and Modification, which is based on a belief that existing buildings, and to
some degree products, can be continuously used through updates. Within this
value there are two separate schools of thought with regards to aesthetics: one
camp focuses on new elements that are sublimated to an overall aesthetic, and
the other advocates for aesthetical contrast, dichotomy and even dissonance
between the old and the new.

The third and final value covered in the Environmental Design Values cate-
gory is the Health design value. This design value is based on the belief that
the built environment can contribute to ensuring a healthy living environ-
ment. Built into this design value, are principles like: buildings should be
freestanding; sites need to be distributed to maximize the amount of sunlight
that reaches individual structures. Similarly, there is an emphasis on health
based construction and reduction of toxic emissions through selection of
appropriate materials.

The fourth main sub-category of values is the Traditional Design Values
category, consisting of three distinct values. The first design value in this
category is the Tradition based design value, which relies on a belief that
traditional “designs” are the preferred typology and template for buildings
and products, because they “create” timeless and “functional” designs.
Within this design value there are three main strategies: (1.) critical tradition-
alist/regionalist i.e. interpreting the traditional typologies and templates and
applying them in an abstracted modern vocabulary, (2.) revivalists i.e. ad-
hering to the most literal traditional form and (3.) contextualists whom use
historical forms when the surroundings “demands” it.

The second value introduced in the same category is the design value of
Restoration and Preservation, which is based on a commitment to preserve
the best of buildings and products for future generations. This design value
tends to represent restoring a building or product to its initial design and is
usually rooted in three perspectives. These are: (1.) an archaeological per-
spective (i.e. preserving buildings and products of historical interest), (2.) an
artistic perspective i.e. a desire to preserve something of beauty and (3.) a
social perspective (i.e. a desire to hold on to the familiar and reassuring).

The third and final value covered in the Traditional Design Values category
is the Vernacular design value. This value is based on a belief that a simple
life and its design, closely linked to nature, are superior to that of modernity.
The design value of Vernacular includes key concept such as: (1.) reinvigo-

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rating tradition (i.e. evoking the vernacular), (2.) reinventing tradition i.e. the
search for new paradigms, (3.) extending tradition i.e. using the vernacular in
a modified manner and (4.) reinterpreting tradition i.e. the use of contempo-
rary idioms.

The final sub-category presented in this chapter was the Gender-based
Design Values, which is closely linked to the feminist movement and theory
developed within the 19th

and 20th

centuries. This category has not yet been
divided into sub-values. However, design values based on gender are related
to three tenets found in architecture and industrial design, which are: (1.)
gender differences related to critique and reconstruction of architectural
practice and history, (2.) the struggle for equal access to training, jobs and
recognition in architecture and industrial design and (3.) the focus on gender
based theories for the built environment, the architectural discourse, and
cultural value systems. Designers that adhere to the Design values based on
gender typically have a focus on creating buildings that do not have the same
barriers that children, parents and the elderly experience in much of the built
environment. It also implies a focus on aesthetics that are deemed to be more
“feminine” than the “masculine” aesthetics often created by male designers.

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