|by Steven Aimone
Lark Books: 2004
hardback, 176 pp., $19.95
The concept of design as it pertains to craft of any type, has basic elements that apply across every medium. Here is a worthwhile presentation, very high in illustrated examples, of everything from hair styles to studio furniture to modern painting. "Simply put, design is the arrangement of visual elements in space," the author states. "Everything you'll learn in this book revolves around this idea."
This is not a book of deep philosophy and classical orders, but an introduction to basic concepts useful when approaching any design questions. For instance, you might not have considered that in western societies we have a tendency to look at the left of a design space before the right, perhaps due to long conditioning of reading from left to right on a page. This fact may influence a furniture design of one tall door alongside a set of drawers, to acquire a pleasing balance in the arrangement of parts.
Aimone discusses contrasts and the effects they have, the dominance of shapes on edges, how static a completely centered design appears, and how repetition of motifs can suggest a more active space. He discusses symmetry, rhythm, and focal emphasis. At the end of each chapter are guided design exercises intended to help the reader use and experiment with the material presented.
The book ties off with full critiques of eight varied artworks, where the author challenges the reader to consider what the design purpose is, what process the artist undertook, how the visual elements relate to space, and what organizing principles are at work.
Mr. Aimone has put his teaching experience into a marvelous text, which will probably leave the reader concluding, "I didn't know how much I didn't know," about a basic subject in evidence all around us.
. . . Barb Siddiqui