Post 559 by Gautam Shah



Vinyl is a synthetic or man-made material. In chemistry, vinyl or ethynyl is the functional group. Vinyl groups can polymerize with the aid of a radical initiator or a catalyst, forming vinyl polymers. Vinyl polymers are of many types, all made from monomers in which one or more of the hydrogen atoms of ethylene are replaced by another atom or groups of atoms. One of the hydrogen atoms is replaced to produce Polypropylene, Polystyrene and Polyvinyl chloride. Two of the hydrogen atoms are replaced to produce Poly-isobutylene (a type of rubber) and Polymethyl methacrylate. And when both carbons are substituted, it produces a complex polymer, Polytetrafluoroethylene (DuPont –Teflon).


Vinyl LP records Wikipedia image by CFCF

Vinyl (V) as a term, coined by the German chemist Hermann Kolbe in 1851, derives from Latin word vinum = wine, because of its relationship with ethyl alcohol. Vinyl Chloride (VC) (chloroethene) CH2=CHCl is a gaseous chemical intermediate, a monomer, not a final product. It is composed of two simple building blocks: ethylene, from petroleum and chlorine a common sea water product. Due to its hazardous nature, no end products use vinyl chloride in its monomer form. In popular usage, the vinyl relates to polyvinyl chloride, basis for one of the world’s most versatile plastic material. Polyvinyl chloride is made by polymerization of the monomer vinyl chloride (chloroethene) CH2=CHCl. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is very stable, storable, fine-grained white powder, and not as hazardous as its monomer. Compared with other plastic materials of vinyl formulations use substantial proportion of natural resources, with low energy requirements for processing and release low quantity of emissions.


PVC buckets Wikipedia image by Goolawfredment


Bright multi-coloured water pots of Chennai Flickr image by McKay Savage

Vinyl polymers or Polyvinyl resins are the most common and comparatively less expensive thermoplastic. The properties vary with chemical structure, crystallinity molecular weight, additives and modifying agents. Vinyl resins are non-oxidizing, permanently flexible tough and durable. These are resistant to moisture and humidity. Vinyl resins are resistant to mild alkali, acid, alcohol, grease, oils and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Vinyl resins degrade upon prolonged exposure to heat, and UV light. The degradation products include HCl which accelerates further degradation, leading to unsaturated polymer structure that can get oxidized. This results in brittleness, loss of flexibility, discolouration. Presence of chlorine offers excellent flame retardant properties making it a choice product for electrical conduit and wiring requiring high resistance to ignition and flame spread.


PVC Pipes New Guthrie theatre Minneapolis Wikipedia image by uberculture (Lic. cc-by-2.0)

Polyvinyl can be made flexible, rigid, semi-liquid, clear or colourful. PVC are of two main varieties: Rigid PVC is used in construction industry and for industrial components. Uses also include, siding, flooring, pipes, extruded sections for doors and windows and hardware. Flexible PVC is softer and pliable due to addition of plasticizes, typically like phthalates. The uses include trims, sheets, sheathing for electrical wires and cables, handrail tops, toys, water buckets, water hose pipes, vinyl music records, imitation leather (Rexine), signage, inflatable products, and rubber replacement applications. PVC resins are used for coatings for metal finishes, collapsible tube finishes, plastic (or Latex) paints, marine and food coatings mastic compounds and strippable coatings. Emulsions based on vinyl acetate are popular compared to many other latex type of paints. Vinyl acetate emulsions are odourless, dry rapidly, durable on outdoor faces and surfaces can be washed easily.


PVC dust bin Wikipedia image by Joolz

Vinyl resins have TWO basic sets of product categories:

Polyvinyl acetate: It is a leathery colourless low temperature softening thermoplastic, with relative stability to light and oxygen. It is mainly used for water-based adhesives, binders (fabric printing) and emulsion paints.

Polyvinyl chloride: It is converted from monomer to a polymer PVC. The final product is in flakes or pellets form, which are used for product forming through solution, dispersion, injection moulding, and extrusion.


PVC window unit Wikipedia image by Mfc3058

Other co-polymer variants include:

1. Carboxy modified Vinyl chloride and Vinyl acetate > Carboxyl modification makes it possible to formulate air drying metal coatings.

2. Epoxy modified Vinyl chloride and Vinyl acetate > Epoxy modification provides ability to cross-linked, with carboxy modified vinyl resins to achieve a thermosetting system. Such thermosetting systems have superior chemical resistance and toughness.

3. Hydroxy modified Vinyl chloride and Vinyl acetate > Hydroxy modification improves compatibility and adhesion, provides sites for cross linking.


Wikipedia image by Asadabbas

Commercially several products of PVC are widely used.

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (cPVC) is a thermoplastic produced by chlorination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin. Uses include hot and cold water pipes, and industrial liquid handling. cPVC is resistant to several acids, bases, salts, paraffinic hydrocarbons, halogens and alcohols, but not resistant to solvents, aromatics and some chlorinated hydrocarbons. It can carry higher temperature liquids than PVC. Due to its specific composition, dealing with cPVC requires specialized solvent cement. The cPVC capacity to bend, shape, and weld makes it suitable for many uses.


Various thermoplastics pipes used in Ultra Pure water system Wikipedia image by Wikikart99

Various Thermoplastic Pipes used in ultra pure Water Systems polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), perfluoroalkoxy (PFA), ethylene chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) has strong resistance to chemical or electrochemical effects, sunlight, and chances of oxidation from water. As this is lead and plasticizer free, is used for potable water supply pipes.

(Molecular) Oriented Poly Vinyl Chloride oPVC is a comparatively a new technology material. This molecular-oriented bi-axial high performance product offers very high strength with extra impact resistance.




Post 558  by Gautam Shah



Medieval merchant’s house Wikipedia image by Jwkuyser

Selling a commodity or providing a service has been basically a street level business. It needs ‘commercial architecture’ to facilitate it. The seller or provider and the customer depend on prior visual recognition and confirmation. Shop Windows, Shop Fronts or Display Windows are the architectural elements for visual recognition. The architectural character of it is highly climate dependent and very slightly affected by the culture of the place.


Shops Tremont st Boston Mass Wikipedia image

The shop-fronts of tropical and colder climates show distinctive difference. The tropical shop was an entirely open front unit compared to the ‘shop-windows’ of colder climates. The later, were small but regular openings, like a glazed section within a door or window. Of course between the two climate-based extremes there were many intermediate approaches to shop-fronts.


Istanbul Grand Bazaar Wikipedia image by Dmgultekin

 The tropical shop attended the customers at the street edge, and had the entire shallow depth frontage for display. On the other hand the colder climate shop was enclosed space. It managed its business deep inside with a much larger volumetric space for display.


The shop windows made a street lively and began to endow a unique architectural identity to the shops. Different trades, like barber, tailors, butcher, sweets, bakery, fortune tellers, medics, each had unique interior space character and their shop fronts reflected that on the street. In warmer climates shops, the interior and exterior of the shop were one.


Typical old style shop Old Forge New York Wikipedia image

The shop window or front constituted the ‘display system of the business. It was also a manner for typecasting or branding the nature of the business.

Shops along a street tend to be nearly of the same sizes and architectural character. It requires professional design help to be a distinctive entity. But to arrange and rearrange the merchandise visible from the shop-front or shop-window was within the ambit of the owner. These also included festival signages, colour schemas, illumination, all called ‘window dressing’.


China town Toronto Canada Wikipedia image by dbking from Washington DC

Shop fronts were, once not regulated by any building authorities. So upper floors were extended to protect the shop front area. Such unregulated projections often extended to the edge of the footpath, and required support of columns. Over a period entire street had a continuously protected passage like a colonnade, similar to one designed colonnade in Connaught Place at New Delhi. However, later rules did not permit more than 11 inches of projected cover. These very small provision was used for shaping the shop window like a bay or bow window.


Greengrocer’s shop in Gourock, Scotland Wikipedia image Licence cc-by-sa-2.5: attribute user Dave souza at Wikipedia

Shop and dwelling architecture had very little scope for undulating the face. Pilasters and Consoles were used to add a strong edge and a separating feature for the shop front. It also enhanced the shop-front within the building elevation. Fascias and Cornices were other elements incorporated with the shop face. A cornice was purely a decorative element above the fascia, or was used as cover for retractable blinds, folding awning or roller shutters.

Old shops-fronts were raised off the road level and also from the shop interior floor level, by means of a stall-riser. The stall risers provided a higher base to display merchandise and protected the shop-window from ramming by the cyclists.


Shop Dwelling combination at Birmingham Wikipedia image by NotFromUtrecht

Shop + dwelling, or workshop+dwelling have been the most convenient combination everywhere in the world. The arrangements were of front shop and backside dwelling, or ground floor shop and upper floor residence. With development of exclusive commercial precincts, the lower floors of office buildings were devoted to shops. The upper floor shops had a street side ‘frontage’ for display and backside entrances.


Freak st in Kathmandu Nepal Wikipedia image by Holynow

Early Display windows were on the public street level. A customer looked at the displayed items, and in few cases whole or part of the interior, at a nominal eye level. Shops on the upper floors or down at cellar level, offered a different perspective which required a different arrangement. At whatever level the street facing display was extremely important, but occupied a lot of floor space. Display systems were made visible not only from outside, but from inside the shop, to endow double efficiency. Such dual faced display systems also allowed greater view of the shop interior from outside.


Glass fronts dual faced display system at Paris Wikipedia image by S12morela

Boutiques, parlours and showrooms used the entire interior volume of the shop as a display setup. Interior display units were very useful to showcase precious (jewellery) and easily perishable (food stuffs) items. Large departmental stores required exclusive interior display units.

Exclusive display units or cubes with no attached selling facilities began to flourish on heavy public access routes such as railway and bus depots. Such display cubes had premium rents and with too little space for display, so graphical images rather then actual items were placed.


Out door digital display unrelated to the shop Dundas Sq Toronto Ontario Canada Wikipedia image by Pedro Szekely



Early shop-fronts used glass on a very limited scale. The door (as enlarged peep hole) and windows (with checkered panes) formed the window-front. The glasses were of smaller units for THREE different reasons: technological, economics and safety. The glass in the door or window could only be enlarged to the extent of the frame. The small window just gave confirmation that shop is open for business, a glimpse of the business inside, and also an assurance to female customers that the shop is transparent and so safe. For the vision inside, the shop had to be brightly lit even during the day time. In small localities where the nature of a shop is familiar to everyone in the neighbourhood, display may not be important to attract a customer, but a display system for new arrivals or preparations was necessary.

Meknes2 Morocco

Morocco Shop front Image courtesy >

Glass became a shop-front factor in warm climates when shops needed environmental control such as heat, dust, rain and noise. Privacy was an important factor for some businesses, and ground glass partitions helped it. But these were not display fronts.

Early shop doors were of half glass+half wood panelling, or full glass+ bottom feet knocker plate. The doors had engraved name and logo of the shop. The doors were floor pivoted, so opened both ways. Shop-window became large but initially with mullions divided glasses. The stall risers began to be eliminated.


Stall riser or Foot knocker at bottom Wikipedia image by Simon Clarke

The display section covered the entire frontage of the shop except two major obstructing elements, the entry door for the shop section, and another door for the residential quarter on the upper floor. The shop door was set back to provide a protected entrance bay, and front opening of the shutter. It also allowed the shop front to form a bay shape and increase its perimeter. The bay shape also permitted the view of the interior from an angle when glare over the main face occluded the vision through.


Multi floor shop fronts at Macy’s Westfield Wheaton Wikipedia image by Ben Schumin

The shop front window was tall enough to cover the entire height up to the beam-bottom or the bottom of a projected floor above. It provided ample daylight, necessary for many North European locations. However, in S. Europe and other countries the shop front glass was stopped at door height level, covered by the sloping awning or used for translucent shop sign board.

Exterior shop front display substantially depended on day light for illumination, whereas interior display units were nearly dependent on artificial illumination.


Glass front display of Pasta in Venice Wikipedia image by Sputnikcccp

Over the years the shop-fronts have changed mainly for FOUR reasons:

1. The quality of glass and size, both have improved since Industrial Revolution. Major quality improvements have been for clarity of glass, such as free of colour tinge, specks, bubbles and undulations. The size of glass has increased several times accompanied by strength. Safety glasses such as toughened or laminated glass requires no other protective layer like a metal grill.

2. The store formats have changed from a single owner and specific set of commodities or services, to departmental stores, malls’ mega marts.

3. Neighbourhoods have changed from a street of a row of shops with residence on upper floors to shopping centres like clustered shops, shopping arcades, multi level shopping centres.

4. The illumination technology has changed. From spot lights, diffused lights, neon tubes, CFL, glow panels to fibre optics, LEDs and LCDs.

All these have affected the nature of display windows. Earlier the glass panes were set within a wood-frame and divided by heavy muntins, as glass available then was of small size and brittle or breakable. Heavy mid members obstructed the clear view. Very thin muntins or glazing bars of metal T sections provided uninterrupted look. As larger sizes of glass became available, single unit glass shop-fronts became common.

Small pieces of glass, each reflected light differently so created a very patchy look, but the large piece of glass as a single unit had only one angle of reflection. Large pieces of display glass were engraved or ground with borders and corner patterns to ‘soften the look’. Large glass front require framing only at the edges, which are often concealed in ceilings, side wall panelling and flooring.


Shop front with Awning Wikipedia image by DAVID HOLT

To reduce the glare folding canvas awnings were stretched over and nearly covering above-the-head level section of the opening during sunny days or hours. Tinted glass and polyester film coated glass are used to reduce the solar gain and UV damage to the goods displayed. At places like a beauty parlours, barber shop, it is possible to use heavy metal sprayed glass or overlay films that have nearly one way vision.


 This article was originally published @  Now being republished here with few changes.



Post 557  by Gautam Shah


Design organizations thrive and proliferate on the quality and quantity of data within their reach. Organizations with their capacity to recognize, collate and format the data, develop synergies that in turn sharpen their data use capacity. The data arrives from outside or it is generated within the house. The data have two sets of relevance, for future and immediate purposes. The data for future use equips an organization to deal with larger and complex jobs. Strategic data is more general to the design practice and used for planning and forecasting. In comparison, the information for immediate use is tactical, more specific to a project or an aspect of it. It is used for decision making and problem solving.


Public Data servers Wikipedia image by National archives

Strategic and tactical data are valued and classified for the following qualities:

Brevity (specific to the context),

Accuracy (of the right context or sensible),

Timeliness or up to date,

Purposiveness (capable of causing desired actions),

Rarity (original, novel)

Cost and liabilities (Free of coast, with royalty dues and with intellectual-right protection, with guarantees, warrantees and assurances).


Library of Alexandria

For design organizations, there are TWO types of information resources.

Internal Information Resources (IIR) are: experience and knowledge that comes with owners, employees, consultants, etc. Data generated from the routine activities like project handling. External information once procured by the organization, if properly stored can be a great internal asset.

External Information Resources (EIR) are: media based such as books, periodicals, internet, CDs, tapes, etc., Various input and feedback from consultants, suppliers, contractors and clients.

External data is inter organizational, fraternity level, society, community, national, or of a universal domain. External information is acquired for a payment of compensation in proportion to its quality, quantity and acuteness of need. Organizations, as a result, end up paying a stiff price for sourcing external information.

Internal data is personal, departmental or organizational. Internal resources are nearly free, require only processing at a negligible cost, but are ignored.


2005 Digital drawing Wikipedia image by Hasanisawi

 Operational uses of data are very occasion or situation specific. The data perception helps in creating a structure, media, estate etc. for its storage and forms of presentation. The data arrives in organizations, at on a continuous basis or at periodic intervals, but it arrives in parts, that will:

  • probably form a whole,
  • automatically create a structure with definite boundaries (close ended)
  • form an ever growing matrix (open ended).

Cost of information: Data as a commodity can have an ordinary cost, if it is universally available and not urgently needed. Data of rare or proprietary nature and that requiring immediate access, however, can have a high price. Information is also available in many free domains without any obligations. Cost of information is also formed by absolute factors like the cost of acquisition, processing, storing, retrieval and transmission.

Information systems and emerging form of design organizations: Information systems affect the structure of design organizations and the workplaces. Digitization in design offices has occurred at several levels, such as communication (correspondence), accounting systems, quantity estimating, cost valuation, quote evaluation, hyperlinked specifications formation, drawings, BIM, PERT, CPM, etc.


Digital information resources Bibliotheca Alexandria, Egypt  Wikipedia image by Pfctdayelise

Information networked design organization is more dynamic because its workers communicate among themselves and with other firms. This provides for greater coordination and collaboration for project handling. It allows use of ‘simultaneous or concurrent engineering’ system of participation across day-time zones, thus saving in time. Information networking has also led many organizations to concentrate on their core competence, and to out-source other tasks to specialized agencies. ‘The capacity to communicate information efficiently within a firm has also led to the deployment of flatter organizational structures with fewer hierarchical layers’.

Information systems built around portable computers, mobile telecommunications, and groupwares have enabled employees to work virtually anywhere. Work is the thing you do, not the place you go to. Employees who work in virtual workplaces outside their company’s premises are known as Tele-commuters.”


Bell x-1 sound design studio Paris 2002 Wikipedia image by Gilbert Courtois

With information technology two forms of virtual organizations have emerged: network organizations and cluster organizations. A network of individuals or geographically widely dispersed small companies working with internet and wide area networks, can join seamlessly through specific protocols to present a multi disciplinary appearance of a large organization. In a cluster organization, the principal work units are permanent, complimented by multiplicity of service providers or temporary teams of individuals. A job or project begins to percolate within the cluster and different sub units begin to react to it, providing their inputs. A solution begins to emerge from apparently fuzzy and often unrelated ideas or concepts. Team members, are connected by intranets and groupware.


Packet switching NSFNET T1 backbone and regional network traffic 1991



Post 556  by Gautam Shah


There are few obvious factors that affect the humidity in buildings. The most important ones are, location of the building and season of the year in consideration. Other factors include, ventilation system, heat input in the interior spaces, location of humidity generating sections within a built space, inter-space air exchanges, and the nature-duration-zoning of activities.


wikipedia image by NepGrower-commonswiki

The humidity management in buildings has two extremes of high and low humid conditions of external environment. The external humidity affects the interior climate of the building by way of air exchange. The air exchange, adds to the humidity content and also dilutes the interior humidity. Adding humidity to space is comparatively easier than subtracting or scrubbing the excess moisture. Low moisture conditions can occur in hot arid areas and occasionally in cold climate zones. High humid conditions are associated with rains, sea coast areas, forested and tropical locations. Within a built space, toilets, kitchens and washing areas are prolific generators of humidity. Internal humidity is high in areas with high occupation such as meeting rooms, gymnasiums, cinema halls, industrial process areas such as quenching, etc. and in spaces with insufficient air-change or ventilation. External humidity is highest during a rain-shower and a little while after that. The same condition begins to occur, soon after, in interior spaces. But the external environment has greater scope of natural dilution of humidity compared to internal spaces.


Smaller openings in hot arid zone for viscous air flow at Gurna mosque Luxor Egypt by Hasan Fathy

Level of humidity is the amount of vapour held by air at a particular temperature. If there is a rise in temperature, the air expands, and as a result more vapour can be accommodated in the same volume of air. Inversely when temperature drops, the air density increases, and its capacity to hold the vapour decreases. Many people cannot sense the fluctuations of relative humidity in the range of 25% to 60%, except through the side effects on the body over a longer period.


Human body cannot cope up with rapid rates of moisture removal, as it has limited amounts of water available within it. Low level of humidity can remove even the moisture that helps skin to remain soft and supple. In cold arid climates the body has, neither excessive amounts of heat nor moisture and so even minute perspiration will evaporate readily. In contrast to this in hot and humid climates the perspiration does not evaporate readily, causing a heat buildup within the body. This is coped up in several manners such as shifting out to low humidity zones, being in the dominant air movement sections, reducing the metabolic activity of the body by resting and quality of food and adopting appropriate clothing. Air with high percentage of humidity is comparatively deficient in oxygen and may cause problems to people with TB or asthma.



Low and High levels of humidity, directly affect health and buildings, and ‘sick buildings’ further affect the well being. For both humidity level extremities, the common solution lies in air exchange management between sections within the building and with the outside. Condensation and its consequence effects can be prevented by improving thermal resistance of buildings shell. Humidity generation can be managed by adding or isolating high humidity sections of the dwelling or processing plants, by including or avoiding water bodies in the surroundings.


Desert cooler or evaporative cooler Wikipedia image by Billy Hathorn

Low relative humidity can lead to discomfort, shrinkage of building components mainly of wood and static electricity discharges. Dry conditions discourage growth of mould, bacteria, and viruses, but dehydrate the protective mucus linings of the respiratory system.  In hot arid climates, low level of humidity and movement of air cause rapid evaporation. The rate of evaporation governs the perspiration and sweating, the prime mechanisms to dissipate the body heat.


High level of humidity will not allow adequate evaporation of the perspiration, resulting in the rise of body temperatures, and one has to resort to other methods of heat dissipation. High level humidity allows condensation of water over colder surfaces. Inner faces of exterior walls and window glasses are vulnerable to condensation. Such surfaces, if porous or textured, allow mould growth, encourage corrosion dust mite infestation and mildew in fabrics and furnishings.


A laminar flow through low level openings for Hot humid climate Wikipedia image by Arayilpdas

Air movements within and around a building shell are very effective for humidity management, in all types of climates. In colder climates inter-room air exchange helps in dilution of humidity without major change in a heat profile of the body. Conversely direct ventilation of toilets, kitchens and such other zones removes humidity from acute areas. In warmer climates high speed air movement -the ‘winds’, help in heat and humidity exchange. Winds have turbulent or laminar air flow properties. A laminar air is more comfortable than turbulent air. The later one creates greater displacement of air mass, but the former one achieves a better mix of air. This is the reason why in hot arid climates small size opening is used to create turbulence or a viscous flow, and in hot humid climates a laminar flow is generated through body level openings to displace the humidity.




Post 555  by Gautam Shah


Design organizations need people of many different talents, but usually just for the duration of a project. Design organizations employ people with only requisite talent. Larger design organizations have some capacity to reassign and keep engaged the talent, but smaller organizations, go for ‘hire and fire’ policy. Design organizations, like other business entities, relate the performance of an employee to the profitability. For Design organizations human resources are very important assets, unlike in manufacturing units where productivity of machines and the raw material costs have greater significance.


The employee perceives own performance in terms of compensation, personal fulfillment, future promotion and skill gain. When an employee has a chance to any of these, the person is well motivated. But an Employer sees performance as a tool for immediate profit to be gained at a specific cost. The organization, even after a person is employed continuously reassess the performance and relevance. The assessment relies on capacity of the individual to handle new roles with increased responsibilities. Performance can be conditioned as the enhanced capacity to deal with more complex or new problems, share of responsibility, greater authority, etc.


image attribution >Sladen at en. wikipedia

During employment performance of a person is considered on many factors such as individual ability, personality traits, input effort, sincerity, perception of the role, motivating factors for seeking the current position, etc. An employee can be motivated for gain, comfort, increased learning, or even enhanced motivation.


Θ Designers under the age of 30, have few positive operants in their favour, like: highest mobility -capacity to settle at any geographical location, work under the most difficult of conditions, and highest learning abilities. These qualities are very appreciated by employers, and so desire to hire people either as a complete fresher or less than 30 years of age (i.e. with 5/6 years of experience).

Θ A person before the age of 35 must gain the varied experiences and find the best employment in a larger organization, look for a participatory role in mid or smaller size organization. Alternatively this is the right time to plan own professional practice (self employment).

Θ Design professionals, by the age of 35 years begin to mature with sufficient work experience, personal contacts, and specialized knowledge. But they also begin to have Negative operants like: reduced learning capability, lesser reorientation faculties, less motivation, less migration and reestablishment willingness.

Θ Design professionals have last opportunity, before the age of 45 years, for seeking fresh employment. It is now the last opportunity to convert all accumulated abstract gains of the past (experience, expertise, know-how) into promotion or other materialistic forms.

Θ The chances of re-employment taper of drastically beyond the age of 45 years. Only way a designer can hope to shift the position is by joining another organization as partner, senior associate, consultant or a free-lancer. Such opportunities are very few, and would demand persons with outstanding competence and capacity to contribute.


The employer terminates the services of an employee when the person becomes irrelevant for a role for behavioural or technical reasons. Employees in spite of the experience are not able to cope up with emerging technologies, or are unable to reset with changed office work culture. Employees become lethargic with advancing age, show unacceptable social behaviour and resist shifting to a new location.

Performance is not any absolute index but a contextual evaluation. The circumstantial conditions are, the employer as a human being, ever-changing needs of the organization, work culture at the place of employment and the optional talents available. The other set of contextual conditions are, the employee’s age, learning capacity, chances of promotion and compensation and optional opportunities for re-employment.


Wikipedia image by Creaviva



Post 554  by Gautam Shah


Designs are representations of ‘themes with abstract content’ at one level and ‘intentions of functional nature’ at another level. As a theme, designs consist abstracted forms or motifs. The motif is an object or experience appearing several times in a peculiar context, or on its own in a changing scenario. It may appear as a consistent pattern or organization in temporal or spatial scale. Motifs or patterns enable us to enact, depict, narrate an objective. A motif can be structured pattern, imagery, phones, musical element or scale, gesture or posture, used to express a concept or reinforce it. In later case the motif serves the purpose of a metaphor as an abstract representation of something.


Art Nouveau Doors in France Boulevard du Montparnasse Wikipedia image by Dinkum

Designs, also represent intentions for a future object or happening. The functional nature of the object or happening, are too large in scale and long lasting, and cannot be expressed except in some surrogate form. The form allows condensation, comprehension, manipulation within a sensorial reach capacity. All aspects of design intentions cannot be transformed as a surrogate for several reasons. The surrogate manifests on, media of some type, which has limitations of size, formatting technology, scale of detail, retention and recovery, temporal variations, etc. These forces, one to adopt metaphoric forms for expressions. For example colours become monochrome, solids and surfaces presented through edges as lines, graphics for cut section views, frames in time sequences or cuts for zones in space.


Story telling through imagery and metaphors -Pabuji no Pat, Rajasthan India Wikipedia image MicheleLovesArt

Metaphor establishes an ephemeral link between a real and unreal things or between two unreal things. So a relationship between a real object and its representation is metaphoric. The design intentions for a functional object or happening as a surrogate relies heavily on things ‘unsaid’. People who read design for the first time never make a ‘head or tail’ of it. But cues to the represented reality are strong enough to cause the learning. Most designers experience this, and so make design presentations in many different formats, such as plans, elevations, isometric or perspective views, models, renderings with shadows etc. These act as the metaphors for metaphors, but cumulatively transmit the idea of design. Here metaphoric design representation is an analogical bridge to something that is far away. Somewhere a comparison, association, slight familiarity is established, and the design is justified and accepted.


Door metaphor for change -Flickr image by Hartwig HKD

 Designers use metaphors:

1 to establish a cognitive link to the intended environment of the design object or happening.

2 to project a unitized organization from the diverse components or situations.

3 to envision a unitary concept overriding distributed and differing elements of the design.

4 to imply the absentee elements and their relationships with a real entity.

5 to ascribe a sensorial experience to environmental or spatial conditions.


Surfing a metaphor used in Internet -Wikipedia image by (original) Megan L. Stiner

Metaphors occur in design formation because one is dealing with many different stack holders, each of which has different level of knowledgeability, cultural background and relevance to design process. First design presentations are highly personal expressions, which are abstract and unstructured entities. In initial stages the nature and content of design are formative not amenable to nominal design language. So the only recourse is to ‘sing’ about it. ‘Singing’ allows literary intonation of feelings, and both of these have been with us for a long time, and so familiar.


“Vimaan” architecture (light-airy like an aeroplane) Galleries at Rani ki Vav (step well) Wikipedia image by Mv.shah

Design metaphors are often described as concept or idea, but design metaphors rely on real forms and experiences. The forms and experiences lying in subconsciousness, ride on to some justifiable precept. A “very large hall” as a description is reinforced with degree intonation, becomes a metaphor. Descriptions like “vast expanse of airy space”, “bright open rooms”, “presence in the neighbourhood”, are not metaphoric unless reinforced with a real object or experience. Some situations however, have accepted relationships, like cool (mountain), breezy (sea shore), dark (night), spooky (sound-echoes). In design to endow the intended experience metaphors accompany, literal symbols (including motifs, patterns), similes, material expressions, architectonic elements, established spatial forms, time scheduling the experience (delaying, accelerating, enhancing) and sensorial exposure and reach.


Runestone Uppland Sweden Wikipedia image by Berig

Motifs and patterns have inherent meaning and order, and these are used as a superlative or emblematic expressions. At this level it can serve few intentions of a metaphor. But such usage requires an ethnic maturity and associations with other objects and expressions.


Museum of Old and New Art -Nolan snake painting of motifs Wikipedia image jeffowenphotos