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Oct 13 / Brandon Fredericksen

Alexander – Timeless Way Reading

Chapter 10

So, this reading is not about typography at all. It is all about architecture. However, this can still be related all the same.  One of the first things said in the chapter is about how there are so many buildings in the world, so many of the same types of buildings. Yet, even though they are all the same, they are unique. The context they are in give each their own feeling to them. Is this not the same with typography? This definition goes hand in hand.

When Alexander talks about how a farmer builds a barn, I’d like to look at it like this. As artists, we all want to make a piece of work. Every composition, essentially, looks the same. Alexander says that every barn will essentially look the same as any other barn. How do they differentiate themselves though? Obviously, all barns (or in this case, compositions) are unique. This is done by using patterns. Common patterns that we see everyday, combining them in a new way.

Where do these patterns come from? How does each pattern vary to look different than the next?  We all have similar patterns in our minds that we imagine and create. “These patterns in our minds are, more or less, mental images of the patterns in the world,” quoted from Alexander.

Patterns that we generate are generally based around a “rule”. There are rules surrounding a composition that sets the guidelines for how the pattern must be developed. What makes patterns more complex than other languages is simple. Patterns are not only elements, but they are the rules. The rules and elements are indistinguishable. A pattern is a rule, which describes the arrangements of elements, which themselves are patterns.

We all use the pattern language differently to reflect the ideas in our head. With that said, there is a harmony in the way we think at the same time, created by the repetition of underlying patterns.


“The patterns, which repeat themselves, come simply from the fact that all the people have a common language, and that each one of them uses this common language when he makes a thing.”


Here are some example of patterns in design.

cod4 mario


Each game has the title in very large letters. It also shows the rating and system somewhere to not interfere with the art. The art shows the main characters.



I can see this as being both a graphic design and a typographical pattern. The main title of the book is in big letters, right in the center. There is a border surrounding the type adding more emphasis onto the main idea. Graphic design does this all the time; After all, it is just trying to direct a message.

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