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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Analysis Reading “The Timeless Way of Building” – Chapters 10 & 11

The use of pattern languages is an inadvertent and conscious process used by people in the development of design.  Christopher Alexander notes that these languages are “a fundamental fact about our human nature, as fundamental as the fact of speech,” and that “Each person has his own version of this common language, no doubt; but, broadly speaking, each person knows the same patterns, and the same patterns therefore keep repeating and repeating and repeating, always with infinite variety, simply because these are the patterns in the language which people use.” This has direct correlation to design and typography, where the need to develop patterns based on systems of visual organization is inevitable. For example, using modularity as a system for grids comes with a knowledge or “broad” idea of balance and structural integrity. But, we also know that modular grids revolve around the equal containment of information regarding organization. Our pattern language comes with the variety in what ways we can design these ideas, but also the information we already know and share about a common agreement regarding modular design.

It is in this that creativity can blossom since the information is already present. Without having to always reach for ideas residing in an abyssal pit, the combinations are given. We know as design students that certain typefaces work better for letterheads, paragraphs, and titles. This known knowledge is a product of a pattern language. The combination of delicate serif typefaces for book paragraphs and heavy slab typfaces for titles works as system of information exploited to make well-planned design, as we know from previous research. This iteration and investigation of ideas works to fill our pattern language even further. This is why listening, reading, watching, and seeing as much works of design is integral to the development of our learning while in school as graphic design majors.

Posted by Kenny Szymanski on 13/01/2013

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