Reading Roger Scruton’s essay in The Times made me think. I like that. The title of the article is ‘What has art got to do with beauty?’ – in a time of Turner prizes – a very interesting question I am sure you will agree.
The article raises many interesting points and rather than dilute, I shall only address one of them at this time.
This search for aesthetic order is not just a luxury; it is essential to life in society. It is one way in which we send out signals of humility, and show that we are not just animals foraging for our needs but civilised beings who wish to live at peace with our neighbours. That is why we adopt dress codes; it is why we are guided by taste in our language, in our gestures and in our ways of looking at other people and inviting them into our lives.
Mr Scruton himself brings modern architecture and ‘starchitects’ to attention.
‘Form follows function’ is often heard during design related conversations and I don’t think the function of form is examined regularly enough.
Returning, for a second, to Scruton’s point about architecture:
But the controversy over modern architecture remains real and important: for it reflects the need of ordinary people that appearances be respected, so that the place where they find themselves can also be shared as a home.
This need for beauty in our lives extends to the websites we use, the products we buy and the software we interact with. Apple brings us great attention to form and certainly presents products which ‘can be shared as a home’ and, while I don’t necessarily agree that every Apple product is infinitely usable, the particular attention to the aesthetic does ensure that Apple products are ‘welcomed into our lives’.
How on earth can we invite beauty into design and not get caught up in endless subjective debates?
–noun, plural -ties.
the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
I am going to assume that we all endeavour to come up with a good solution to every design problem and imagine we ask ourselves something like:
- Does my solution fulfil its function?
- Does my solution represent and excellent execution of my skills? (be they, software design, graphic design, interaction design, etc)
Perhaps all we need to add is:
- Does this solution give intense pleasure and deep satisfaction to its intended audience?
By adding that final question, it seems to me, we will indeed be giving the world exactly what it craves, beauty.