CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH

Post 700 –by Gautam Shah

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01 Chairs By Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a Scottish architect, designer, textile designer, product designer, graphics artist and water-colourist. He lived most of his life in the city of Glasgow. At young age he was afflicted with rheumatic fever, this resulted in a droop on one side of his face. Because of these disabilities, young Charles was encouraged to spend time in the countryside. And love for the countryside and flora was to enliven creativity through his life.

1 Tea Room Room_de_Luxe

9 TEA ROOM

Mackintosh was a reclusive child who had difficulties in understanding the emotions of others. He used his sketchbooks as a way to withdraw from the world, manage his own outbursts of rage. Mackintosh in his later years became an avid painter of flowers. Macintosh art work of nature in pencil and watercolour was exquisite and botanically accurate. Later in life, disillusioned with several un-built architectural designs, Mackintosh devoted himself as a watercolour artist. With Margaret, his wife, they painted many landscapes and flower studies.

1 a Charles_Rennie_Mackintosh_-_Cactus_Flower

1 b Fetges CR Macintosh 1927

1 c weathercade Charles Rennie Mackintosh Willow Wood

‘Art is the Flower – Life is the Green Leaf. Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful living thing, something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious more beautiful – more lasting than life itself… you must offer real, living – beautifully coloured flowers – flowers that grow from, but above, the green leaf – flowers that are not dead – are not dying – not artificial – real flowers springing from your own soul – not even cut flowers – You must offer the flowers of the art that is in you – the symbols of all that is noble – and beautiful – and inspiring – flowers that will often change a colourless leaf – into an established and thoughtful thing’.

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, 1868-1928; Wall Panel for the Dug-Out (Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow)

3 Margaret MacDonald Mrs Mackintosh Opera Of The Seas 1903

Mackintosh joined Glasgow School of Art at fifteen and a year started working as a trainee draftsman with John Hutchinson. After that apprenticeship in 1889, he joined Honeyman and Keppie. In 1890 he won £60, as the coveted ‘Alexander Thomson Traveling Studentship for Public Design. He decided to go to Italy and Europe. This changed his life with varied design related experiences. It was here that Charles Rennie Mackintosh met fellow artist and future wife, Margaret MacDonald, who influenced his life intensely. Macintosh, wife Margaret, sister-in-law Frances and her husband Herbert Mac Nair, were known as the The Four or the Spook School’, and the Glasgow Style. They influenced the Glasgow art scene and European design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism profoundly. The Four exhibited widely in Europe, both together and individually, and Mackintosh received commissions for furniture from patrons in Berlin, Vienna, and elsewhere in Europe’.

4 a Galagow School of ART

4 Mackintosh School of Art

Architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh is a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves’. The Glasgow School of Art project, considered to be the first Art Nouveau style building, gave him international reputation. It was constructed in two stages separated by nearly half a decade, allowed lots of improvisation during the second execution. During the period he completed a curious project, the Queen’s Cross Church. It is now restored and houses the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society headquarters.

House for an art lover Glasgow)(3811523958)

Macintosh created a new design paradigm from the natural forms of plants and flowers in an age when most of the modernist designers were trying to rediscover Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other ancient expressions. ‘We must clothe modern ideas with modern dress’. A friend said, ‘the creations of Mackintosh breathe. The interior and exterior spaces designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh sing of serenity, spirituality, and of rigorous attention to detail’. He had a knack of making hard surfaces and tough forms, soft and elegant. His was meticulous, delicate and extremely restrained. The husband-wife partnership created a unified expression. From around 1904, Mackintosh began to adopt more formal, angular geometry, gradually doing away the cursive form of Art Nouveau.

17 a Ruchill Church Mackintosh

52 Ruchill Church Hall 17

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s only other ecclesiastical work was the Ruchill Free Church Halls which were completed in 1899. Significantly, the Free Church did not ask Mackintosh to design the adjacent church building.

‘The architect must become an art worker… the art worker must become an architect… the draughtsman of the future must be an artist…’ Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

50 Queens Church Mackintosh

Church buildings by Mackintosh > Mackintosh designed two religious buildings in Glasgow. Queen’s Cross Church is a former Church of Scotland in Glasgow. The site was on a corner location, with adjoining tenements and a warehouse. The Building started shortly after Mackintosh finished his competition design for the Glasgow School of Art. The design has Gothic features. The window features a blue heart. After being decommissioned in 1970, it serves as headquarters of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. The adjoining church hall provides tearoom facilities with a display many Mackintosh artifacts including replicas of the chairs he designed for the Willow Tearooms.

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Mackintosh works had subtle Scottish flavour, but he consciously adopted freshness that marked his modernism. He was concerned for functional, practical and simplistic features. He never used heavy ornamentation of past styles. Much of his work includes contribution by his wife, Margaret MacDonald whose flowing, floral style complemented the formal, rectilinear architectural work. Unfortunately his work was appreciated only long after his death.

31 Bedroom furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh Wikipedia Image by Karora

By 1914 Mackintosh lost hope of ever receiving the recognition that he truly deserved. He became stubborn and uncompromising. His career and health both were low. After the stay in Walberswick, conditions began to improve. This was just before the war (WW-I), but he was called a German spy and for a while put under house arrest. He moved to London, in the early 1920s, to reignite his carrier. Here Macintosh began to concentrate on water colour art. Later they moved to France in 1923-27, where he painted scenes of the French coastline. He painted Port Vendres, near the Spanish border and the landscapes of Roussillon. He sought to capture the harmonious coexistence relationships between man-made and natural elements through architectural landscapes in watercolour paintings.

20 Hill House by Mackintosh

Macintosh was a meticulous person, and his working drawings included exhaustive details for architecture, decoration, and furnishings. His wife, Margaret MacDonald immensely contributed to this documentation. These drawings have helped restore many of the projects with original details. All his major architectural commissions like homes, commercial buildings, interior renovations and churches were between 1895 and 1906. Many of his projects, however, remained on paper.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Kelvingrove Glasgow) (3838792257)

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DESIGN, MOTIF, PATTERN -Part 1 -Issues of Design 25

Post 686 –by Gautam Shah

.motifs are strokes

Motifs are self-sustaining elements. Motifs can be linear outlines, solid filled-in planes, solid objects, or fractals. A motif may look like a familiar object, but need not be a representation or symbol. In other words, a motif may not have any abstract conveyance, yet may carry an associated or interpretive meaning. Motifs may have similarities, which are ‘here’ or in some remembrances. Motif recognition is a matter of perception, and so a personal affair. But there usually are many concurrences, and so some commonality is perceived.

2 motifs

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A Motif, as a self sustaining element, is nominally oblivious of the happenings in the surroundings. But motifs have the potential to be part of a pattern, a larger whole. Such a fate is evident, because a motif while retaining its ‘fundamental trope’ subsists through several of the avatars. The changes occur through scaling, orientation, colours, or even some degree of form distortions.

3 motif may seem familiar without being a symbolicimage or a representation

Metal Iron Railings Wrought Iron Ornament

Motifs are impressionistic configurations, captured from the surroundings. The impression is expressed for posterity or communication by in-forming it over a medium or moulding it with materials. In both the cases, the form-shaping motif is affected by the formative materials, specific tools, techniques and the body posture. The motif as the ‘stroke’ matures through several conversions. The process of maturation endows new meanings to the motif. The ‘stroking’ can become extraordinarily florid to turn into a style.

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Stylized Motifs have their own vocabulary of placement, associated linkages, scaling and permissible reformations. Such governance remains tied to the materials, craft-processes, associated persons (extended family, cast, creed, locality), and the period. The motifs begin to govern the pattern. The stylized motifs and patterns thereof, have a deep lineage. The stylized motifs, however, change when new materials and tools arrive to reform the techniques. New ‘strokes’ of motif creation offer different set of patterns. The changes first occur in the scale, line formation (thickness and consistency), the fill-in colours and textures, and shape twisting. The original and the differentiated motifs, both form a distinguished motif culture.

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green man images

The motif culture can be so overwhelming that other crafts begin to accommodate it. An evolved motif in Embroidery or fabric weaving, may enter diverse fields of jewellery, metal crafts, painting, pottery, interior decoration, architectonic elements etc. A motif in new environment (society, materials, crafts or tools) develops with new forms of ‘strokes’ of motif creation. These occur on sheer strength of the Graphical value. New patterns generated for the graphical value can reflect some links with the original civilization. The trace of the original flavour remains, where the motifs are adopted as a replacement of products, sensorial variation and for political, cultural or social incentive. But where the motif is accepted purely as technological input, a brutal severance from the original connection occurs.

complex pattern out of several motifs chikkamagalur amruthapura kirthimukha india wikipedia image by

Primary motif is a stroke of straight or single curvature. The stroke has two ends, and are the potential connections of first order. Other likely nodes are the tangential or the crossings. Multi-stroke motifs have closed ended or open-ended shapes. Motifs have potential nodes of connections and togetherness. Motifs with geometric strokes such as lines (vertical, horizontal, inclined) or curvilinear seem familiar. In comparison Stylized motifs are re-engineered forms of real objects. A motif cannot be abstracted unless it carries a meaning, as a symbolic representation. The symbolic representation is about ‘abstract or non-tangible concepts’ such as movement, vibrant, static, serenity etc. There is a tendency to find meaningful object in seemingly chaotic situation. In case of motif, the recognition of geometry (form), proximity (relationships), style or an abstract objective, all help in finding motive for it.

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The phenomenon of finding meaningful patterns in meaningless noise is called patternicity , and conversely, not perceiving patterns that are present in the visual stimulus is called apatternicity.

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A motif coexists with other motifs, and is perceived if within a field of perception. Basic togetherness is of proximity. Other coexistence occur through the incidences of similarity, scaled identity, mirroring images, reverse positioning (upside down), direction, hierarchical order and density of placement define the nearness. Motifs overlap, partially converge, or merely touch at the edge. Such connections ensues pattern making relationships.

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A motif establishes several sets of relationships to form a pattern: mutual distancing (density), position from the field edges, and confirmation of the operative environmental forces (gravity, magnetic field, air, temperature stresses). The density is defined by size, scale and form of the motifs. A pattern is recognized through following characteristics: Congruity (rotations, translations, reflections), Similarity (scale, orientation), and Isotonicity (similar interpretive or metaphoric meaning). A motif need not be central to a pattern, but rather recurrent element.

11 complex image goya painting the third of may

A motif, its pattern, whatever we visually perceive, is subjective, situational and circumstantial experience. The visual perception is formed by degree of familiarity, need, environmental conditions, foreground-background contrast, the visual frame, context, etc.

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In literary narrative, a word or an expression, when used frequently and in synonymical manner, creates a pattern. But since such choices are of the author, it becomes a personal statement, a pattern. An author habitually uses these as an allusion. The motif or pattern, both allegorically indicate a thought, idea or concept. The symbolism behind the motif persists in the cultural setting but for a time. Beyond this the motif however remains simply a crafted stroke.

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In oral expressions, speech or music, the Vowels, Consonants, Octave or Sur (Indian) etc. as motif are placed together form a unique note or pattern. And the same conducted with different time interludes, become varied set of speech or music pattern. To this set of variations, the speaker adds phonetic variations, whereas the musician adds own mannerism of playing or singing. The music instrument and the space add peculiar reverberations. The motif and pattern of the sounds change with the ‘playing’ and broadcasting tools, both favouring certain frequency range and tonal (bass-treble) quality.

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‘A form constant is one of several geometric patterns which are recurrently observed during hallucinations and altered states of consciousness Klüver noticed that mescaline produced recurring geometric patterns in different users. He called these patterns ‘form constants’ and categorized four types: lattices (including honeycombs, checkerboards, and triangles), cobwebs, tunnels, and spirals’. (-Wikipedia).

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form_constant

Motifs have a form, often with intelligible process of creation. But we try to interpret and reformat it through logic of mathematics. Man made motifs as repeatable strokes are simple but the ones ‘experienced’ in nature are often inexplicable. Natural motif forms do not exactly replicate. Some believe these can be ‘learnt’ through fractals (fractals are mathematical patterns that are scale invariant). The motif-forms at simple level are like spirals, circles, waves, meanders, crystals, snowflakes, bubbles etc. But complexity arises with sequenced repetition, axial rotation, mirroring or reflection. The motif, as single element may not offer much but as placed in various patterns it gains meaning.

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This is the 25th article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN

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THE PALEOLITHIC WALL PAINTING

Post 677–by Gautam Shah

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The wall paintings (upper palaeolithic eras) began as a medium of expression -a ‘story’ telling exploit. It was not a decorative art for a place, but a ceremonial craft in a space. The paintings were in deep caves as well as open sites. Bhimbetka, India, sites shows human occupation for more than 100,000 years, but earliest paintings on the cave walls here date back just 30,000 years ago.

Bison Cave of Altamira

Upper Palaeolithic period began roughly around 40,000/60000 years ago and lasted through the Pleistocene ice age, which is believed to have occurred near 8,000 B.C. This period was marked by the rise of Homo sapiens and their ever-developing ability to create tools and weapons.

Bheem_Baithika_Caves_Paintings_(7)

The cave sites were difficult to access but were perhaps special and visited by several generations. The caves were deep and dark and artists worked with lamps and torch lights. The paintings were made on walls, ceilings and even floors. Many of the locations and surfaces were acutely irregular. Artists had to work in squatting lying position or use elaborate scaffolding to reach the heights. The scale of the job was stupendous. Deep cave paintings have survived, whereas open location paintings have generally been destroyed.

640px-Altamira-barlang_belseje,_nyílvános_kamra

At Bernifal in the Dordogne, the mammoths are painted 20 feet up. Some of the bulls at Lascaux are more than 20 feet long. The big cave vault at Lascaux, known as the Picture Gallery, is more than 100 feet long and 35 feet wide.

Lascaux_painting image by Prof saxx

The cave art consists of simple impromptu works as well as grand executions. The first types were perhaps executed by amateurs or apprentices, and the second by masters. To sustain projects of such scale, the master artists were helped by a retinue of assistants and the community. The assistants helped in erecting scaffolding, preparing the surface to be painted, mixing colours, devising brushes and other colour application tools, feeding animal fats to lighting torches, provisioning food and water.

Bhimbetka_Cave_Paintings

The cave artists have shown very high degree of professionalism. The compositions, understanding of the animals’ anatomical details, animals’ form, dynamism and movement, all represent a keen sense of observation, experience and discipline.

The limited choice of colours has been overcome by the masterly expression of form. There is consistent economy of line. The textural and tonal qualities do not represent the light and shade, yet suggest the depth through colour differentiation (recognizing the ‘grey tone value’). At places existing substrate textures have been exploited. The scale and distribution of objects within a composition do not follow a visual proportion system, yet prioritize the elements of the story.

Abric_on_es_troben_les_pintures_d'art_llevantí_al_pla_de_Petracos

Wall painting began as a line drawing. Lines were frequently scrapped through a sharp edged tool. The etched lines perhaps helped in retaining the charcoal or soft stones rubbings. Such art works, as the primary responses were impressed on whatever interior or exterior surfaces that were available. However, it was realized that more permanent work can only be created in a protected space. The caves space and its environment stimulated a spiritual experience for the portrayal. The spaces must have been favoured by several generations, as some of the paintings have been modified repeatedly over thousands of years. The earliest works are refined compared to later works or modifications.

Paintings_from_the_Chauvet_cave_(museum_replica)

There is nothing to suggest that the art was a setting of a ceremony. There is no depiction of a sacrifice, or a master of ceremonies like a priest, sorcerer or a witch-doctor. The paintings also have no images of the surrounding terrain or the vegetation of the time.

Bison-Cave-Painting-Altamira-Caves

The palaeolithic wall art consists of three main categories of subjects: animals, humans and signs (abstract or unexplained). The animal figures are the most detailed and naturalistic representations, but drawings of humans are rare and perfunctory. ‘In the case of Chauvet, predatory or dangerous animals dominate, while in Lascaux the main representations are of large herbivorous mammals’. At caves across various geographic locations the animals include: woolly rhinoceros, lions, bison, horses, aurochs, bears, reindeer, wisent, and giant deer and hyenas. At places species which were then extinct (as per the time dating technology), are also painted. Some of the most common species such as the reindeer do not find any representation, though bones have been found in the cave. The wall art also includes prints of spray painted hands, with abstract interconnecting lines.

Lascaux,_Megaloceros

The abstract signs are said to be representing the perception of night skies, of stars etc. Some forms of visual effects of movement or vibrancy (experienced in limited illumination) were perhaps included by use of florescent dyes, and slightly shifted images.

MATERIALS and TECHNIQUES

SantaCruz-CuevaManos-P2210651b

Wall art of upper Palaeolithic age in the early phase did not have any surface preparation except scrubbing off the loose particles and dust. Selected surfaces were away from flowing or leaching water. Early phase drawings were done in line work with charcoal, but compared to this the carbon black, a deposit over an animal fat burning lamp had better binding and colour saturation. Lines were also scratched or etched by a sharp tool and done over with a black colour. Scratching the surface also ensured better colour retention. Later renderings (filling up the colour) with red ochre (Iron oxide from Haematite) and black was done. In the later phase (25000/20000 BC) other colours such as yellow and brown were added to the palette.

PanneauDesLions(CentreGauche)RhinocérosEnFuite

In the initial phase dry colours were rubbed over the surface. In the later phase colours were ground with water and additives like blood, urine, eggs and animal fats. The additives improved the bonding, increased the viscosity (to prevent run off the surface) and reduced the drying time (allowing application and rendering effects). Learning also included: how to prepare intermediate shades (orange and browns), prevent algae like growth, avoid colours that fade over an age and moisture bleeding of colours and additives. Colours were mixed Calcium containing water or nodules to improve fixing.

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The colours were ground by rubbing them over a rough surface, and also through pestles and mortars. At Lascaux, some 158 different mineral fragments were found. Shells of barnacles and human skulls were used as containers for ground pigment pastes. Colour was applied by brushes, twigs and fingers. Colours were also put on by spraying through mouth and blow pipes made from bird bones, and by daubing with hands, fibrous pads and soft skins. Colours were sprayed over hands as the stencils to perhaps mark the participation or visitation.

altamira Hand spraying but of post original work period

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RHETORIC in DESIGN -issues for design -16

Post 653 -by Gautam Shah

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Rhetoric is the ‘art of speaking or writing effectively’. (Webster’s Definition) Aristotle describes it as ‘the ability or means of persuasion’. He describes three forms of rhetoric: Ethos (distinctive spirit of a people or an era), Logos (the logic and supportive evidence behind an argument or a reasoned discourse), and Pathos (represents an appeal to the emotions of the audience, and elicits feelings that already resides in them). Rhetoric is used in literary and verbal expressions, by using things that are familiar, but less acknowledged in common usage. In literary and verbal expressions rhetoric is exploited by construction (of the language form) and reinforced through the means of delivery such as rendering diction and graphics.

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Literary and verbal expressions generate instant and consistent impression over their audience or followers. Designed objects like arts, crafts, architecture, graphics, products, etc. however, do not carry an immediate or intense message of persuasion. A design has a persistent delivery, but very variable in content. It gets actualized in many different scenarios.

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Emotions through rhetoric ‘have specific causes and effects’ (Aristotle -book 2.1.2–3). Such dialogues however, do not exist between designers and connoisseurs. ‘Aristotle posits that along with the pathos (an appeal to the emotions of the audience), a speaker must also deploy good ethos (distinctive spirit of a people or an era) in order to establish credibility’. Philo distinguishes between two different types of logos 1 Prophorikos (the uttered word) and 2 Endiathetos (the word remaining within). In case of design-objects, the later one is relevant, as the rhetoric of design is always latent or potential.

640px-Henri_Rousseau_(French)_-_A_Centennial_of_Independence_-_Google_Art_ProjectRhetoric is means of expression or conveyance. In Literature and utterances it gets reinforced through linkages or examples, and altered through feedback from the audience. Such immediate response is not possible for Art, craft or architecture, and if any, it arrives as feed-forward in the make up (training and experience) of the creator. The design feed-forward chiefly relies on the visual rhetoric like books, site visits, media images, etc. But, it is impossible to perceive here ‘one cause to one effect pattern’. Other sensorial inputs like touch, smell, taste, aural, etc., historically had alogical legitimacy. Once a design actualizes, the feedbacks may arrive as historical realizations, but in different time and context. So designs can ‘have traceable past, but uncertain future.

Interior_of_a_revolving_space_station_(artwork)

It is often claimed that visual literacy is of recent origin, when we ignore the mediums of expression and conveyance, which have been with us since primitive age. Wall murals’ images were visual rhetoric, well ‘read’ and capable of arousing Aristotelian pathos (an appeal to the emotions of the audience). Some examples of visual means are charts, graphs, diagrams, photographs, movies, printed media, etc. but though these arouse the pathos but not always as instant response.

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Visual Literacy

The study of visual rhetoric is different from that of visual or graphic design, in that it emphasizes images as sensory expressions of cultural meaning, as opposed to purely aesthetic consideration. (Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. New York: Routledge, 1996.).

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The Design objects like architecture poses a statement only after their making, or on being used as an ‘artifact. Vitruvius stated that a work of architecture is a matter of ‘invention, arrangement, memory, delivery, and style’, and the process was perceived to be similar, to the Aristotelian way of putting together a speech. Design creation is very circumstantial, meant for a client, functions, site, regulatory framework, financial restraints, etc. It, however, needs to be tempered by arrangement, assimilation or composition of many different elements and considerations. These, together offer a holistic character, but realizable only after the creation. Rhetoric in design, if any, is in the design feed-forward, and after its avatar through the feedback. The feed back spreads over a very long period, sometimes after the original entity is destroyed. The Aristotelian depiction of Rhetoric as ‘the ability or means of persuasion’, for designed objects like architecture remains vague or conjectural.

Bidri_craft,_craftmen_at_work

The ability or means of persuasion were reasonable for artefacts conceived and made by the same person. But modern designers generate designs through surrogates or representations, and transmitted to makers or assemblers as schema or specifications. The communication through a schema is an order for execution, but certainly not for persuasion or concurrence. The instructions, if, any are non-personal and distanced in time. Some designs are too involved with the clients or stake-holders, but many others are panoptic. Designers are self-absorbed to care for persuasion or confirmation of anyone. Rhetoric exists, but as statement of non-confirmation.

Deconstruction Ways by Isidro Blasco

Design disciplines are categorized in four major domains: Graphic Design (Real and abstract -symbols communication), Products Design (objects, artefacts, craft-items), Services Design (software, interaction, stake holders) and Empathetic Design (social concerns).

McKeon, Buchanan state the understanding of design, as of symbols and images1, physical artifacts2, actions and activities3, and environments or systems4.

Architecture Confluence Lyon Deconstruction

Build-Designs are perceived at Two levels. First level consists of assembly of elements like signs, patterns, or images, and the organizational discipline. At another level, there is holistic form that is conceived without any elemental identities.

Kirtimukha_sculptures_on_shikhara_(tower)_of_Amrutesvara_temple_at_AmruthapuraThere are few characteristics common to both the congregated and totalitarian forms. Design, in part or as a whole is an allusion to something separated in time and space, and formed through analogy (comparison) or antithesis (contrast). Antiphrasis is an impressionistic expression to convey non-conventional meaning used for sarcasm. Build-forms or the constituents are given magniloquence by way of exaggerated scale, contrasts, precarious shape and intensive vibrancy.

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There are few features that rhetorize composite forms due to multiplicity of constituents elements. The sub-elements occur as microcosm, recurrence, as directional move, evolution-devolution and support-contrast. These rhetoric elements manifest in scaling, sequencing or within a perceptible domain of time or spatial reference.

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Design objects like architecture, fashion, products, are created for stake-holders and for personal gratification. Objects for personal gratification often result from intense desire to go out of the box as a non-conformal creative activity. This attitude, though very radical, resulting into unusual approaches and solutions, is tied to reality. All worldly creations are governed by factors like gravity, terrain and environment. Arguments of persuasion, justification or acceptance.

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Out of the Box thinking: It is believed, the term for unconventional perspective in thinking, has come from British mathematician Henry Ernest Dudeney. In this, nine dots are to be interconnected by using four lines drawn without the pencil leaving the paper. The puzzle required one to go beyond the dot array boundaries that is move out of the box.

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This is the 16 th article of 20 topics series on ISSUES for DESIGN

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MEANING of CRAFTS -5 -TOOLS

Post 651 -by Gautam Shah

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Villeneuve_d'Ascq_Eté2016_Asnapio_(35)

Tools are implements used by a person in manual operations for production or processing, like manipulation materials, craft-work, building construction, cultivation, food processing, offense-defence, handling, carriage, measurement and expression (writing, drawing, enacting). Tools have been used for making better tools. Tools are for doings things in an easier manner, as well as for doings things that otherwise would not have been possible by hands. There are few conditions where instead of the tools, the supports and other facilitatory structures and arrangements help in creative efforts and productivity.

Stone Age Caveman Ancestor Hunting Neanderthal

Tools are universal implements, used over different tasks and materials. Over a time, though, an exclusive manner of handling develops. The manner of handling evolves a holding mechanism. The holding mechanism, an entity integral with the tool, allowed efficient use of the tool. The combination of a tool and its handling mechanism was a task (and material) specific facility. The tools and handling section, each served different purposes, and so were shaped accordingly. Both faced different stresses and required different composition. But a combination of diverse forms and materials need to be compatible, coordinated and well joined.

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Handled tools extend and modify the reach of the body. The extended reach helps remote access, adds to leverage and allows torque or twisting. For cutting, breaking, beating, copping and such other jobs need leverage for impact or percussive forces.

Stone Age Tomahawk Blue Archaic Close Hoe Sky

A lever amplifies an input force to provide a greater output force. The lever arm is defined as the perpendicular distance from the axis of rotation to the line of action of the force.

Recognizing objects that can work more efficiently was the first craft. Refining by reshaping natural objects for a specific purpose has been one of the oldest craft industries. Some of the basic craft tools were for food preparation, and personal safety and security. Early tools were fragile and often got consumed in the use-processes. And so, the search for new tools was everlasting, alternatively new tools had to be fashioned from old ones. Redefining the tools necessitated search for better materials, sharpening the edge, and tying a handle.

640px-Adzes_from_New_GuineaTools were now of three basic classes: hand-held tools, percussive tools and projectiles. Other sub-classes were like cutting, scrapping, hole making, vessels, holding, measuring, coating-spreading, digging, mixing, etc.

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Primary tool materials were stones, woods, bones, clays and perhaps metals. Some of these could be re-formed by downsizing. Clay and metals were plastic materials that could be re-formed by moulding and additive process.

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Holding tools became important for two main purposes, to hold fine-sized objects and tools and to hold fire or hot things. Fine items like beads, and precious-stones need to be held properly to work upon them. Tool bits like fine and fragile edges need support, whereas fine points for drilling and engravings require adequate gripping. Tools were required to initiate, and work with fire. These included fire-fuel management utilities (chulhas), air blowers, handle for hot tools and holders for vessels. Agriculture related tools like thresher boards, winnowing baskets, sieves, land tillers, etc. Spinning, knitting, and weaving utilities developed for threads and cordage, which were used for binding handles, roof and wall elements, fishing nets, etc.

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Tools, as said earlier, are handy things. But there are many utilities, facilitatory structures and arrangements that have helped creative efforts and productivity. In these, at certain level of detail tools like appendages or similar advantages are invested. One of the first ones was the fireplace that contained the fire, helped efficient use of the fuel and offered resting stands for things to be heated. Similarly structures were created as dwelling spaces, clothes or apparel, shoes, head caps, adornments, toys, totems, murals, shutter systems over openings, hangers for food to protect it from insects and rodents, sleeping mats, hammocks and cradles, lamps that evolved less heat but more light, food grinding stones, narrow neck pitchers for liquid storage, slide for transporting goods, etc.

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At some level the tools, utilities, facilitatory structures and arrangements were merged as devices, machines, apparatuses, equipments or plants. These were integrated with the built-forms, for support, location-based advantage or task setting. The tool, craft and technology were one seamless pursuit. The pursuit also integrated several materials into not only single purpose entities but very specialized task facilities. The task related specializations also created technology-based castes, guilds and communities. The craft communities are tied to terrains and climates. This allows them to develop acutely ethnic styles.

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STYLING the ABSTRACT

Post 622 –by Gautam Shah

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Expression is main intention in fields like literature, art, architecture, fashion, and other branches of design. The expression has content that is implicit, subtle or explicit. Besides the content the expression emerges from a mix of medium and technique. The content as inspiration or realization depends on the intensity of personal relevance and comes in from many different fields. The medium and technique derive from many different geographies and eras.

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View of Gopuram (Gate Tower) Sri Mariamman Temple  Singapore > Wikipedia image by AngMoKio

The expression is sometimes made devoid of any content. But, one is never satisfied with the abstraction, and to achieve a better result it is tried over and over again. It results into an ‘abstract style’. The abstract style in absence of the content is strongly rooted with the medium and technique. Somewhere the ‘abstract’ begins to acquire a metaphoric meaning.

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‘Style is a characteristic or group of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or tenacious.’ + ‘Artistic style is the sum of constant, recurring or coherent traits identified with a certain individual or group.’ -Living With Art, Rita Gilbert

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Capriccio Palasttreppe > ART By Bernardo Bellotto 1721-1780

Such metaphoric content is matured by someone, but is invigorated by others in different time and space. And if the content, medium and techniques are different from the origins of inspiration, then ‘what is that‘ –Style or the Manner are reassessed. If style is holistic concept consisting of several characteristics, accepted and practised coherently by several persons across different fields of expressions, than Manner is a set of selected components that substantively codifies the ‘stylized expression’. Styles are creations that are distanced in locations and occasions, but with some re-collective connection. A stylized expression may not have cogency to the original. It is the mental image or glory that becomes the manner.

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Dragon gate at Guell Pavilions by Gaudi

Manners or ‘stylistic elements often reflect a period, a socio-political-economic environment. The scrutiny of the expressed forms into lines or shapes, frontal or angular views, foreground or background, the tempo, sensorial aberrations, colour or tonal gradations, etc. is imprecise. So manner criticism relies more on discreet terms to connote restrained, evasive reasonableness. A ‘manner’ is full of cramped codes, with silly and arbitrary rules.

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Atlantis supporting the balcony Tyszkiewicz-Potocki palace Warsaw > Wikipedia image by Bartosz MORAG

‘Mannerism, derived from the Italian maniera (manner) is a specific phase of the general Renaissance style, but manner is used very widely.’ Manner derives from Anglo-French manere, > Old French maniere > from Vulgar Latin *manaria (Spanish-manera, Portuguese-maneira, Italian-maniera, Dutch-manier, German-manier, Swedish-maner), > from fem. of Latin manuarius (belonging to the hand), from manus ‘hand’.

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Wassily Chair (Model 3B) designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925-26 at Bauhaus > Wikipedia image by Lorkan (Flickr)

Style and Manner both need, time and process to spread and sink into the society. The process of spread was accelerated manifold during the industrial age, due to faster means of travel and communications. The styles and manners, however, were recognized, and equally rapidly forgotten. These though incarnated themselves in other fields.

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Wall mural on singers of seventies > Wikipedia image by Alain Bertrand

Cubism remained with painting, sculpture and architecture and has not found expression elsewhere. Deconstructivism of literature by Derrida did not come to architecture till means of realization like CAD tools were available. Sensualism, psychedelic arts and make-believe in the cinema and graphics, are expressions still tied to the passage of time. Perhaps some different techniques of expression and realization are due. The concept of minimalism and sustainability may converge, and manifest as architecture of thinness and gravity defying stances. Compared with this literature is protuberant, still relying on elaboration and on metaphor.

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Luxor temple Egypt > Cartouches for Ramesses II > Wikipedia image by Asta

In fields like art, sculpture, architecture, fashion and other branches of design, which rely on expression through use of material and technology, changes in physical sciences are going to be the driving forces. In other fields of expressions like literature, performing arts, communications, the changes in behavioural and biological sciences will re-define the perception mechanism of the content.

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Story telling > ART by Albrecht Anker 1884

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UNDERSTANDING LACQUERS

Post 498 –by Gautam Shah

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Cosmetic Box

In early 1920 Lacquers were considered industrial coatings, mainly used by White-goods and Automotive industry. Earlier to this period a Lac or Shellac coatings were wood craft finishing techniques and material. Industrial age lacquers were favoured due to their fast drying and non-yellowing properties. Clear Lacquers were increasingly replacing tin as MS sheet coating for food packing but were found suitable for aluminium sheets packing such as collapsible tubes and canisters. Lacquers were also used for the nail polishes and as hair fixing sprays. These lacquers as the name suggests were not made of natural Lac or shellac but from Nitro Cellulose. The lacquers needed thinners of various types for different application technologies and seasons.

Lacquer Paint Pic from Wikipedia by Author Victorgrigas

Oil paints based on Alkyd resins or GP Enamels need thinner of single solvent material such as Genuine turpentine, Mineral turpentine and in few instance Naphtha or superior grades of kerosene would work. These solvents singly can work for all application needs and for cleaning-washing post-painting work. With alkyd-based paints, a resin is the film-forming component. It is reduced in viscosity during the manufacturing and later during application. The requirements of solvent-s differ according to ‘length of the resin’ (which designates the proportion of oil versus other modifying-polymerizing agents, such as typically a phthalic anhydride). Short-oil length resins may require stronger solvents. A solvent that dilutes the viscosity alone may not achieve application level of viscosity. Some type carrier or diluent solvents are required which acting as a ‘carrier’ material help achieves application level (such as spraying) viscosity. The carrier solvents evaporate fast before the chain linking (and so film forming-drying) process starts at ambient temperature, raised or baking temperature or through a catalyst enabled reaction.

Wood Brushing Lacquer Pic from Wikipedia Pic by Author Mk2010

The word Lacquer has become a misnomer. A Lacquer in nominal usage means a coating system that is fast drying, tougher and non-yellowing. All lacquers, however, are not NC (nitro-cellulose) lacquers. Other Lacquer coating systems formulations are based on Acrylic resins, Amino resins, Urethane and epoxy systems. NC lacquer dries with evaporation of solvents, at ambient temperature or often in warm chambers. Other formulations require baking-stoving environments or have two-pack system (a catalyst and paint mixed just before application). A NC lacquer film can be wetted-dissolved after drying (such as Nail-polishes of pre 1965 era) by a thinner, and are called ‘non-convertible systems’ (product that does not get chemically converted into something else). But newer generation-lacquers cannot be dissolved or removed easily after drying, and are called ‘convertible systems’ (product that gets chemically converted into something different).

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Lacquer Nail Polish Pic through Wikipedia -Source http://www.flickr.com/photos/zitona/4733601645/ by Author » Zitona «

All types of Lacquers, convertible or non-convertible products require very specific type of thinner. A company that formulates the paint system, for reasons of Patent knowledge, may not reveal the exact formulation. So it is very necessary to use the thinner specified by the manufacturer. A thinner is a combination of different solvents. There are two important considerations, action of dissolving and diluting (acting as a carrier), and evaporation rates of the solvents. A Lacquer system may need as much as 75% or more thinners for spray like application. But after the deposition on the surface, it does not require such low viscosity. So some solvents (usually diluent or carrier) begin to evaporate very quickly. Some other slower evaporating solvents, allow time for film to level out.

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Lacquer coated Brass

A lacquer-thinner is a combination of solvents of basic Five groups. First group consists of latent solvents like Toluene, xylene and naphtha. The other three groups are of active solvents such as, ketones, esters, glycol ethers. Alcohol, though a latent solvent, in combination with other solvents plays an active role.

Lacquer thinners are affected by the weather and process of application. A normal thinner works for average temperature-moisture conditions. For very wet, windy weather and for brushing or manual polishing with a cloth bundle, reduced the rate of evaporation achieved by adding or using a ‘retarder thinner’. For spray like application, an accelerated rate of drying is possible and for this accelerator or fast lacquer thinners are used. Spray applications require more and faster drying thinner compared to wood lacquers that require less and slow drying thinner.

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Shellac finishes were the first true clear coatings. Shellac is an insect exudate known as stick lac. Stick-Lac is refined to remove impurities and lighten its colour. Button-Lac is a manually purified is of darker colour, while machine purified shellac is often dewaxed and de-colourized. Shellac is soluble in methylated spirit or alcohols. Sankheda furniture and Chinese lacquer items are examples of shellac coatings. Shellac is a very effective coating material even in very thin viscosity, as a result its penetration and filling capacity is excellent. It is eminently recoatable so a very level and glossy surface is possible.

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