Sunday, October 28, 2012

Architecture & the Design Fields: Powers of Ten

In my previous post I stated my contention that architecture is connected to virtually all design fields, in very fundamental ways.  This post explores those connections. 

In 1971 Charles and Ray Eames released a thought provoking short film entitled "The Powers of Ten". The film opens with a couple picnicking near the lakeside in Chicago. The camera zooms out as the narrator describes the scenes that unfold by the powers of ten. The camera stops in deep space, reverses direction, and returns to the picnicking couple.  It then penetrates the hand of the man and the powers of ten exploration continues within. This film shows how the various fields of science -  physics, mathematics, astronomy, biology, chemistry - are all connected.

Architecture: Villa Rotunda
In a similar manner, various fields of design - space architecture, urban design, architecture, interior design, fashion design, industrial design - are all connected. And, just like the picnickers in the film, the field of architecture is at the center of it all. Buildings are designed specifically for human beings and thus occupy a central role in our lives. It is where we dwell, usually where we work, and often where we go to dine, shop, for entertainment, and the like.

Backing away from architecture, we explore the field of urban design, where we look at groups of people rather than individuals. We are not seeing houses, office buildings, and schools, but neighborhoods, street grids, and cities. Backing even further away, the cities blur into land masses and we are soon in deep space looking back. Design problems exist here as well.  Space architecture, for example, deals with issues related to transpiration and the provision of stations in deep space.

Urban Design: Washington DC
Space Architecture: Power Tower Station

Reversing direction and moving into the architecture, the shell of the building, we enter the field of interior design. Here we explore color, texture, and furnishings, and the circulation of human beings,   clothed in current fashions. Fashion design is perhaps the most intimate design field to human beings. The designs must simoltanously consider aesthetics and comfort.

Interior Design: Hotel Murmuri
Fashion Design: Christian Siriano Collection

Circulation in a different form takes place on the street grid, moving between architectural destinations. - transportation. The design field addressing the most common form of transportation is automotive design. Pervasive in our automobiles, at and around our connecting roads, on and within our buildings, and virtually everywhere, are a myriad of products that we rarely think about but which must also be designed.  The diverse field of industrial design fills in these voids.

Automotive Design: Micromobile 2020
Industrial Design: Poloroid Land Camera

Here we have established a commonality and connection between architecture and other design fields. Further investigation will establish that the actual "process of design" in all design fields is remarkably similar.  In the next post we will return to fashion design, using it as a vehicle to explore this common process of design.  Next time, Fashion Is Architecture.

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