Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Understanding the World and Objects Around us


commodity- something of use, advantage, or value.
firmness- comparatively solid, hard, stiff, or rigid; not likely to change
delight- to give great pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment to

For a while, we have talked a good amount about commodity, firmness and delight in design theory & history. We mentioned how buildings have to allow function and they must accommodate people who occupy the space instead of only thinking of aesthetics. Even if the original purpose of a piece of architecture is no longer existing, the next inhabitant must be able to also use the building, even if for a different purpose. Buildings must also be able to stand the test of time. The structure and firmness of a piece is extremely important as anyone would expect. Also in Egyptian times, change was unexplored having a sense of firmness. It was part of their culture to have things be consistent because of afterlife. And even though the Egyptians did not pay as close attention to materials as they did durability, they still added delight to their pieces as they put gold on the rocks to let the sun shine on the structure longer and bring attention to its beauty and importance. A piece of architecture must have the element of delight: rhythm, proportion, texture of lightness and darkness, light, color, material, sound, ornament, and also as Roth points out, ugliness.

Since it has been expected that all forms of architecture, dating all the way back to Egyptian times to present day, commodity, firmness and delight are considered a phrase and the POWER OF 3 in design.

The Egyptian pyramids and tombs are great examples of commodity, firmness and delight because they occupy all three. In Egyptian culture, the goal was to create commodity and order, expanding through time, death and decay to the service of tradition (Roth, 210). Egyptian architecture was more than just the materials and form, it was the piece itself reflecting a symbols that mattered most. They wanted to create a place that would stand the test of time, for their purpose was to bury people for the afterlife. In order to achieve their importance of the afterlife, they needed immovable, massive, durable, secure, and indestructible structures. The pharaohs, kings and other people needed for the afterlife were buried with treasures and valuables, to satisfy them later. The pyramids of Giza and the Tomb of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri are great examples that I pulled from design theory & history class and from the book, "Understanding Architecture".

(photo taken from http://www.longwoodholidays.co.uk/sharm/tours.htm )

(photo taken from http://iluvjollibee.blogspot.com/2008/09/walk-like-egyptian.html )


definition - the substance or substances of which a thing is made or composed (dictionary.com)

When you really think about it, materials are all around you. Whether you talk about certain materials or whether you subconsciously choose particular materials, the substances of anything is important. In all of the studio classes, materials are an essential element and are mentioned frequently. In drafting, drawing or studio, we are given assignments and certain materials are always required or necessary. In design theory & history, we talked extensively about materials this week. Specifically, we talked about the beginning forms or architecture and what materials different “architects” used. Forms varied from skin stretched over bones to wood timbers to sand and stone in various ways. Up until the Egyptian time, materials were chosen by what people could get, which was from nature and in Egypt, the Nile brought materials to villages. Then as the Egyptians advanced, stones were stacked in an orderly fashion and being used to create large structures. Egyptian architecture, however, did not aim to be seen as a fashion and was never studied by the “architects” as an abstract piece. Instead, “they saw not the stone but the symbol” (Roth, 210). The Egyptians “valued bigness, mass and solidity as the expression of durability, a guarantee of unlimited security and indestructibility” (Roth, 210).

An exercise that we had in design drawing concerned materials, specifically new materials that we have not used yet in the course. Early in the week, we learned and practiced vignettes in the simple form using pen and making details with hatching. Then, later in the week, we learned how to use different materials, watercolor, to create a whole new look for our pen vignettes.

(this was the class vignette that I watercolored after)


definiton - a phrase whose meaning cannot be determined by the literal definition of the phrase itself, but refers instead to a figurative meaning that is known only through common use (wikipedia.org)

An example of this figurative meaning is the saying "kick the bucket". The saying is sounds somewhat innocent, however, the true meaning is that someone has died. This saying, even though a little harsh, relates to an event that has come on my family this week. Tragically, my amazing and fun grandfather passed away. He was extremely close to me throughout my life and will always be in our hearts.

Also this week, in design theory & history, we talked a lot about Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a series of circles of massive post and lintel stone structures with a centralized being. Researchers have yet to conclude the original meaning of this structure’s purpose. Some say that it was a clock on a landscape. The idea of Stonehenge being a sundial is in a way an idiom because it is strange to think of a large structure such as this to tell time. If it really was a clock, we do not know as of now, making it an idiom.

Another example of idiom that I have developed from design theory & history is that of the Wedding Rocks. Further East, in Japan and China, what is known as the Wedding Rocks distinguishes light and darkness. It is composed of two rocks in the water, one larger than the other, connected by a rope that ties around the top of each rock. The rope simultaneously divides but unites the rocks, any symbolically light and dark. This concept can further be described as separating the heavens and the earth.


There are various definitions for illuminate such as:

• to supply or brighten with light; light up
• to decorate (a manuscript, book, etc.) with colors and gold or silver, as was often done in the Middle Ages
• to enlighten, as with knowledge

In more general terms, it basically means to enhance the state of something through actual light or in a figurative speech, by making something stand out, seem important or be acknowledged in some way.

In my mythology class, we read a story about Zeus and Prometheus, gods of the unnatural world. The story is that one of the gods, Prometheus wanted to play a trick on Zeus, all mighty god, for not giving fire to mortals. Prometheus took the meat and blood from an animal and put it in a pile and took the bones and fat in another pile. The pile that was topped with shiny fat was more illuminate and attractive that Prometheus was able to complete his trick. Zeus chose the pile with the fat, while Prometheus was able to give the mortals meat.

Also in design theory & history, we learned that many pyramids and tombs of important pharaohs were built with slick surfaces and gold was added to the top for sun to shine and reflect off of. Reason for this was because ancient Egyptians did not want important monuments to blend into the environment, but instead sit out, illuminating the structure and the culture.

To express illumination, we had practice with watercolors. The watercolor helped enhance the original ink vignette as the vignette itself showcased the artifacts and the areas of the body that the artifact was related to, but was not as visually appealing as it could be with the color.

[IN SUMMARY]....this past week, I felt we talked a lot about understanding the quality of objects and architecture around us. With the power of 3, commodity, firmness and delight, a piece is well-rounded and achieves good design. Also, material is a huge part of most objects as it can change the shape or mood of any given piece, however, in some cultures, materials help make symbolism the most important part of an object. Sometimes the material you use can also illuminate the object and make it more interesting. Or sometimes it does not even matter what materials or how illuminated something is, it is always hard to perceive and remains an idiom. Regardless, this week was full of great design knowledge.

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