Post 716 by Gautam Shah




These SIX articles are from my Micro Blog site https://wordpress.com/view/designsynopsis.wordpress.com  The articles are listed in terms of their publication sequence.  The Topics relate to #Minimalism, #Functionalism, #Frugality,

#Brevity, #Abstractions, #Reductionism









An Expression to be effective requires condensation and rearrangement of the content. The minimalism takes many different forms, in Art, it takes abstraction of form or story, in Writing, it turns to recitable poetry, and in Built forms (product design and Architecture) it needs to remain steadfast with sheer functionality.

In audio-visual expression, the reenactions are never faithful to the original, and yet the improvisation can be creative. For minimalism, the productivity is just the frugal use of means, but efficiency of the process. Minimalism is the distinctive impression created through the space and time scales. ‘In design, clarity trumps the brevity’.

The word Frugality stands against Substantial. A thing, substantial, is more ‘down to the earth’, but conversely a minimal entity is infinitesimal or spectral.

Bauhaus was about rejecting the unnecessary things that had begun to undermine the functionality of designed objects. Minimalists ask, What can we strip away without losing the purpose and identity? This is in stark contrast to Redesign Engineering ideology, which ask, What can be redefined? And the search is not a “Eureka”, but adopting and improvising the operative efficiency available in competitive offerings.


Brevity in Design relates to two fundamental measures, the TIME and SPACE. And the calibration of both, leads to efficiency. Brevity in architecture is a reflection of minimalism. It comes from a yearning to ‘shed weight’ so as to be less ‘substantial’. In architecture (and also other forms of design) ‘substantial’ translates into monumental or elaborate. A monumental entity, must confirm to the stabilizing force of gravity, and so should be large and wide-based. An elaborate entity could be multi-functional or multi-faceted, satisfying many needs.

The superfluous ‘becomes intense and dense’ in ‘classical ages’ that reappraisal becomes necessary not to discipline it but to discover the ‘new’. But such pursuit for Brevity starts at personal level, and is initially a preconception. By the time the originator and followers understand the means and methods of it, it may become a style weighed down by ‘substantial’.

Brevity as a doctrine has many subscriptive forms, like, ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, rejective art, De Stijl, neo-plasticism, Bauhaus movement, minimalism, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’ Less Is More and Traditional Japanese art.

Brevity (First attested in English in 1509)has origins from Latin -brevitās or brevitātem, Anglo-Norman brevité, Old French brieveté (=br -brave + evity -evidence).


Aparigraha means non-possessiveness or being non-greedy. Aparigraha is the opposite of Parigraha, which means, to amass, crave, seek or seize material possessions.

Aparigraha is one of the virtues in #Jainism. It is also one of the five vows that both the householders (Sravaka) and ascetics must observe. Aparigraha is a desirable self restraint and sincerity (as a fellow citizen) for possessing what is absolutely necessary and so minimum.

(#Jainism -a religion in India, originating in roughly the same time span as Buddhism).

American scholar Richard Gregg coined the term ‘voluntary simplicity’ to describe a lifestyle purged of the inessential. My space is small but my life is big.

The concept of minimalist design was to strip everything down to its essential quality and thereby achieve simplicity. Thereafter nothing can be eliminated ‘to simplify or improve the design’. Minimalists not only ‘reconsider’ the physical qualities but spiritual meaning also.

This usually creates a design statement that is very frugal and personal. And it requires converts, who can understand, believe and accept it. If you are a design service provider that needs spirit and energy of a crusader.


In the wake of World War I, an international functionalist Design movement emerged, riding on the wave of Modernism. This was triggered by consumer product periodicals that had wide base of female subscribers.

The movement was for achieving purity in design of a product through functional relevance. This was gaining momentum with a similar trend in art, architecture and craft-artefacts. It was for reduction and restrain with the aim to remove the unnecessary and put the essential in the spotlight. These trends in Design were confirming to than current ideas of socialism and humanism.

Louis Sullivan’s 1896, idea of ‘form ever follows function‘ was more metaphysical than being practical to users’ needs. It was more reflective of ‘lack of (‘excessive’) ornamentation. Some treated as ‘bald and brutal’ manner. Philip Johnson daringly ‘held that the profession has no functional responsibility whatsoever’. The postmodern architect Peter Eisenman was more extreme, ‘I don’t do function.’

From all these personal interpretations products, art and architecture began to rely of structural stresses as expressed through straight line and right-angled geometry. This was bereft of emotion, as good design should be ‘clear and unobtrusive.’ The success of functional design was in the rationality and cost effectiveness, as it removed wastage of space and materials.


Communication occurs through writing, orally, gestural deliveries and through metaphors or graphics. Authors usually have some knowledge about the target audience.

All communications use spatial or temporal assets and so need to have minimal content. The tradition is ancient one, as knowledge was conveyed orally as Shrut Gyan (Vedic mantras are in easy to remember and in recitable form).

For content rationalization several strategies are resorted to. The contents are abstracted by removing all time-space gaps and less important information. The language in Internet chat-rooms, whatsapp, etc. shows the nature of abstraction spreading across the world. Here common words are shortened by eliminating vowels and are denoted by their phonemes. Symbols and metaphors are also used to squeeze the contents.

The contents are sequenced, with time as the operative element. Oral or gestural deliveries are sequenced in time and so are lineal. Writings can have non-lineal arrangement if aided indexing. Graphical formats are impressionistic, rely on the holistic effect.

The focus of abstraction and communication are through the retrieval and re-enactment of content. So what one strongly feels, desires, believes, becomes the force-de-majeure.

For frugality of expression beginning with a pre declaration or concluding with a definitive statement

The contents can be minimized by forming bridges (e.g. hyperlinks, bibliographies, index) to create a seamless statement or a larger concept. A well linked or cited content vouches its authenticity through circumstantial referencing.


Abstraction is a process of removing irrelevant appendages from the idea, thought or concept. This reduces the complexity and increase efficiency.

Abstraction in Art began with the removal or de-emphasis of the background or the context. This allowed the thematic concept to be perceived not just distinctly but in a different manner. The abstract Art was more concerned with the later. The newness of the object independently of its associations or attributes provided an exciting option to impressionism and expressionism. Both the -isms were substantially dependent on negation through colour, texture, form depiction, foreground-background delimitation, depth representation with intensities, perspective or scaling, and environmental connections like light and shadows.

Word Abstract derives from the Latin Abstrahere =to divert and Aabstractus =drawn away, drag away, detach, pull away, divert. It is an assimilated form of Ab =off, away from + Trahere =to draw.

In computer programming abstraction hides all but the relevant data about an object.

Acute abstraction takes away the reality. The subject is not sought or to be recognized. It has no bearing of perception like top-bottom, left-right, real or mirror. But on massing the abstract creations, do reflect the creator and that becomes the style. It is the mannerism that becomes universal. But before that universalism sets in the Art moves to something New.


The word ‘anekaāntavāda’ is a compound of two Sanskrit words: anekānta and vāda. The word anekānta itself is composed of three root words, ‘an’ (not), ‘eka’ (one) and ‘anta’ (end, side). These three together connote ‘not one ended’, ‘sided’, ‘many-sidedness’, ‘manifoldness’ or ‘many pointedness’.

According to ‘Jain’ (Indian religion that originated in roughly the same time span as Buddhism) doctrine, there is no absolute truth or reality. Anekantavada has also been interpreted, to mean non-absolutism. It is said no single concept can describe the nature of existence and the absolute truth.

Every truth is incomplete, and at best a partial truth. The ultimate truth and reality, if any, are complex and multi faceted. All knowledge must be qualified in many ways, including being affirmed and denied. Anekantavada is a fundamental doctrine of Jainism.

According Jainism reality has many facets, which are difficult to be perceived by one person or through several cycles of life. Different people interpret different aspects of it. Their conclusions are good for them and in the time-space context.

Reality is what we perceive and also of what we do not perceive. We cannot understand the reality unless we are ready to accept both. So all conditions have potentials of many truths.



Post 715 by Gautam Shah




Scenography is a practice of Stage Craft that includes scenic design, lighting, sound, costume design and various types of shielding or curtain barriers. It creates a specific stage-environments or atmosphere to support the expression or narration. It is also perceived as combination of technological provisions and sensorial effects to support what an acted or spoken narrative cannot do or need not do. It creates a sense of place in a performance that could be indicative, real or hyper real or even bizarre.



The term scenography is of Greek origin, skēnē =stage or scene building, grapho =to describe. It was originally detailed within Aristotle’s Poetics as skenographia. It is now also used as craft of display in museums and merchandising.


Scenography is the seamless synthesis of space, text, research, art, actors, directors and spectators that contribute to an original creation. -Howard, Pamela (2002 -What is Scenography).


Scenography is not simply concerned with creating and presenting images to an audience; it is concerned with audience reception and engagement. It is a sensory as well as an intellectual experience, emotional as well as rational. Joslin McKinney and Philip Butterworth..


Noh Performance > The traditional Japanese Noh stage (butai) Design derived from Shinto worship pavilions (haiden) or dance pavilions (kagura-den) of Shinto shrines. The stage is squared and bounded by Four columns (like the Indian Mandap or Mantapam) for Hindu Marriage or Yagna pooja ceremonies. The four column-roofed entity is placed in open as well as indoor facilities. The stage is a sanctified area for the ritual of performance.

The roof is overpowering element drawing attention to the performance. It also becomes the focus of the hashigakari (suspension bridge), a narrow passage at right upend, used by actors to arrive on the stage.


Noh performance space is open on all sides to offer a participatory area for the performers and the audience. It stays open through the performance, as there are no curtains to declare beginning or end of an act over the central stage (honbutai =main stage). So like Indian Kathakali or street performance of Ramayana, Mahabharat and other classical plays the audience see the preparation of scenes and actors’ entry-exit. This is what happened in Greek open air amphi theatre stage performances. An edgeless performance place.



STAGE CURTAINS Part 1 ● Performance Spaces
STAGE CURTAINS – Part 2 (forming the performance spaces)
SEGMENTING the SPACES -Issues of Design 31
DISTANCE as an ELEMENT of DESIGN -Issues of Design 26
MODELLING of OBJECTS in SPACE -issues of design -20
CONTEXT -Issues for Design -12
INTERVENTIVE SPACES – Issues for Design -2
EXPRESSION and COMMUNICATION -as behaviour in space
The INTERLUDE (intervening space)
SPATIAL MEMORIES –Issues of Design 29


DESIGN PROCESSES -Design Handling –Issues of Design 32

Post 714 by Gautam Shah



Designs occur as a concept, idea or theme, expressed in the form explanation, process of creation, or representations like drawings, models, surrogates, samples, digital images. All Designs are documented briefs for realization. Design also carries a meaning of forming a pattern. Creations by artists or craftsperson may occur as experiment or improvisation, and are not truly designs. Designs need not be realized as a physical reality. A design can be a strategy for operational management or conducting services.

Structure at Kabah 4707705100_82facac70a

For a designer, knowing means to achieve a specific end are very important. Proper record keeping of all design processes helps here. It is very difficult to register dreams, intuitions or inspirations. One needs to recall them in a different time and space context. All intuitions or inspirations, however, absurd, have some physical context of origin. Designers unlike a lay craftsperson or artist, are trained and disciplined, to record their design related thought processes. The thought processes thin out or obliterate completely with passage of time, so must be recorded as early as possible.


Design Processes for a Lay person and a Designer are very different. A creative lay person simply goes on creating (assembling, modifying) things without being aware why certain things manifest in a certain manner. For a creative person the end is important and means irrelevant. A Designer, on the other hand, tries to discover the logic behind it. Selection of an element may be initially intuitive, but there is always a later effort to justify the actions intellectually. A designer justifies all actions like selection, rejection, inclusion or composition of various elements. In doing so the designer refines the intellectual prowess by equipping with an experience that is:

  • definable
  • repeatable or recreate-able as a whole or in selective parts
  • recordable -its perceptive aspects
  • transferable to another person
  • increase or decrease its intensity (time scale) and diffuse or intensify its concentration (space scale).

Scaffold structure-construction-pattern-line-electricity-531489-pxhere

For these (above) purposes Designers rely on documents. The expertise of documenting all aspect of design helps a designer to handle extensive or more complex intuitions or inspirations. Personal and impulsively formed systems tend to be Holistic, with few or no recognizable sub systems and being very unique require more extensive definitions and so complex documentation. On the other hand, planned systems, whether personal or evolved through multilateral effort, and over a longer period of maturation, consist of many sub sets. Planned systems have subsets that are already formed by vendors and well prescribed.


Documents are personal method of transmitting a design to stage of realization. In large projects designs are transmitted to professional executors and in different locations. Design transmission and interpretation, require ‘culture’ of protocols. Many such protocols are not defined but accepted as the traditions. Such traditions make a Design transmission and interpretation fast, but are prone to errors.


Designers create both, Closed and open-ended systems. Closed Ended Systems are intentionally made holistic. Closed-ended systems are planned to protect the intellectual rights of the innovators. Closed systems are improvise-able only by the author or inventor, whose capacity to update it continuously is finite. Proprietary computer software may be used by a licensee, but its code remains restricted. The closed systems cannot be dissected for inspection or repair, the form is compact and rigid. Closed ended system need nodes of connectivity or gateways to be useful. Such gateways may or may not allow access to others. Such systems become irrelevant as soon as an open-ended option is available. In the world of mutual dependency, closed systems cannot survive much longer.


Open-ended Systems evolve from multilateral effort or multi trial endeavours. Where large number of people are involved in design and execution, and where these processes are likely to take place at different time and locations, the system automatically becomes Open ended. The subsystems usually offered by venders, to be replaceable, are conceived as substantially independent systems, by their vendors. Open-ended systems have a ‘design-architecture’, formed through common measurements, materials and procedures. To allow these, open-ended systems have a skeleton type frame structure (infrastructure) and fit-in modules. Open-ended systems have built-in reserves or additional safe capacities, often wasteful, but such reserves make systems more persistent. Open-ended systems allow replacements, improvisations and up-gradations of their subsystems and components.

Overhelming spaces piqsels.com-id-ovdvv




Post 713 -by Gautam Shah


Designers often help their clients to acquire or dispose off entities in their completely prepared form. When the transaction originates at producers’ end, it is little above the cost, at a price. Price, reflects the value a producer attaches to an entity. Later transactions may not in any manner relate to an entity’s cost.

1 auction-black-and-white-character China-260933

For a thing to have a value, it must be transferable. A latent value becomes potent when it is perceived that someone needs the entity in some time and space, for a utilitarian or hypothetical purpose. A demand for a perishable commodity, if it, does not occur within the life span, is irrelevant. Similarly demand for something in a far off place cannot be satisfied, due to transportation hazards and handling problems. Air has a lot of utility but is not scarce. Rotten eggs may be scarce, but hardly have any utility. Friendship is very useful and scarce, but is not transferable or marketable.

Historic cost of creating a painting may be few drops of colour, a canvas and artists’ few moments. But once the fact is accomplished, the painting gains a very high value due to its extra ordinarily high relevance to the society. Relevance of a product in terms of its utility is (more) likely to degenerate over a period of time, but its value may appreciate or depreciate depending on its relevance to the owner or the society.

2 Design Practice vs trade fish-835597_1280

Prices are effected in money. Prices go up or down depending on the fall or rise in the (universal) value of the money. Any change in money (monetary value) affects the prices of all things across the board. Value of a thing, however, is specific. There cannot be a general fall or rise in value of all things. Value of a thing goes up, when we can acquire or aspire for more or superior things in exchange. Value of a thing goes down, when we can acquire or hope for less or inferior things in exchange. Value is relative, referred in terms of something else.

Value of a thing, cannot be always measured in money. Value has many different connotations, typically, it has relevance in terms of, emotions, remembrances, associations, ageing, maturity, heritage, rarity, ecological, environmental, social, etc.


Valuation, in functional sense, is done to determine what one would gain by acquiring, or forgo by disposing the item, but not necessarily doing so. Value of a product means an addition or deduction to wealth, Cost at the moment of transfer may or may not reflect the value of an item, but it helps in a better judgement of the value.

A rare painting or an antique may have an indeterminable cost, but will have a probable value. Value could be several times more or less than the actual cost of the item. Value is considered to be the true worth of an item, more lasting, but not necessarily reliable. Cost and price are very realistic and reliable, but not always representative of the true worth of the item. Both, perhaps, are required to gain a full insight of the situation.


Monetary versus Non-Monetary Valuations

Valuations are of two types: Monetary and Non-Monetary. Monetary valuations are not very different from costing exercises. Value of a thing, cannot be always measured in money. Though here utility, desirability, scarcity, availability and marketability etc. of an item are assessed in monetary terms rather than market equivalent costs of such items.

Valuations of non-monetary type are made to check adherence to values, customs, traditions, ethos, rules regulations, laws, etc. Greater adherence to these issues results into higher value realization for the product. Often negative or repulsive aspects of an entity, such as Hitler’s memorabilia, black magic tools, due to their rarity, invite a connoisseur’s favour. Non-monetary valuations have a relevance only to people who are concerned with it in some way. Non-monetary valuations based on one aspect or few concerns are not very useful, desirable, or even reliable. Non-monetary valuations based on too many aspects are not comparable, so must be scaled into some economic or monetary component. These makes, a valuation, very complicated process.

1023518main_ISS and AMS_S134E007532

Costing versus Valuation

Costing is a logical (mathematical) process, and any technically proficient person can carry it out. Costing process must always remain justifiable, and requires many exact inputs, including latest market costs etc. Valuations, however, involve many hypothetical judgments, are very subjective, and so may not seem rational. It is the experience of the valuer that imparts some degree of objectivity and also reliability to the valuation. Valuation on the other hand is a subjective judgment, and no explanations may be asked for.

Costing helps a designer in planning, budgeting and auditing the expenditures. Valuation is used to confirm or justify expenditures, indicate non monetary savings, and to convince a client for quandary options.



Design Practice and Cost Determination Methods

Designers choose entities, increase or decrease their usage by predicting the costs. Designers develop their own cost determination methods, appropriate for the jobs they handle, and for types of items specified in their projects. Input data like market rates for materials, parts, components, labour etc. are continuously updated or sought as and when estimates are to be prepared. Updating feedback is also available through the historic estimates conducted on completion of a project.

In design offices predictive cost analysis is made through Rate analysis. Average prices of all commonly used materials, operations, etc., are collected routinely, reformatted and stored. These are presumed as standard rates, and form the basis for the cost analysis. To simplify the process of cost analysis, number of items and their individual rates or prices are reduced by approximation (through definition of a factor for variation) in quantity and quality.

Screenshot_2020-02-29 Bo-Kaap Neighborhood

Routine jobs and jobs with substantial intellectual effort

Routine jobs have a determinable cost (and by adding a customary margin of profit, etc. one can derive the price). However, jobs with substantial intellectual effort accomplish more than the cost of implementation. So, dilemmas occur, should one charge a professional fee on the total cost of the job, or value accruing out of the job? Authors of creative efforts must know how to value their accomplishments, and thereby demand a fair compensation for it. Designers need to know both the cost and value of their professional services.

Cost versus Value for Designers

The understanding of Cost versus Value of an entity helps a designer at TWO distinct levels:

1 Determination of Fees: Cost-based and Value-based

2 Helping a client for the value-assessment of their possessions.

Screenshot_2020-02-29 Mares and foals with an unfigured background (England,1762) - George Stubbs (1724 - 1806)

Cost-based Fees

Design practice follows age-old traditions of Architectural practice. Jobs are generally executed by appointed contractors or selected vendors. These third party (away from the Architect and the Client) business entities present an invoice, which reflects the nearly true cost of the job. Architects base their fees on this foundation after adding certain percentage amount to account for miscellaneous expenses, (such as on power, water, etc.). Substantial part of Designer’s work follows a similar path.


Value-based Fees

Value-based Fees are charged for jobs like renovation, extension, addition, conservation, etc. that make substantial change to the existing environment, upgrading the commercial value, or advantages deriving out of it. A unique concept that costs very little to implement, provides a substantial benefit to the client. Should one charge a fee on the cost of a job or on the value of the completed job? Here determining an appropriate cost base for fees is very difficult.

Value Assessment of Possessions

On some sites there are pre-existing structures which are to be only reformed or reused. The design cost of continuing or protecting such structures is difficult to compute, and so must be value-based. Cost of works or supplies by third party vendors and contractors are accountable, but items supplied by the Clients from the existing stock are difficult to document. Cost of Retained Structures, Antiques, Curios, used in a project are often indeterminable, instead their values, if available need to be used. On sites where several Professionals operate simultaneously, exclusive authorship to a creation is disputable, so cost of a patent idea is disputable.


Cost Plus Fees

Fees for very complex jobs, or jobs that are unique, and without any precedents are very difficult to predefine. A Client wishes to see the job properly done, and the Professional wants a guaranteed, but a fair amount of income. Such jobs are executed on Cost Plus Basis.

The office work of the professional and the site work of the project, both are executed in a very transparent setup. All the expenses at the Processional’s Office (salaries, stationary, conveyance, rents, service charges for equipments, etc.) and at the Project Site (on raw materials (stationary), wages, and salaries, rents for equipments, conveyance, postal and telecommunication charges, taxes, etc.) are well monitored, documented and audited. The Professional is then allowed a percentage over the Audited Costs.


SEGMENTING the SPACES -Issues of Design 31

Post 711 -by Gautam Shah


17 train-seats-transportation-travel-trip

Spaces are divided with partitions and also segmented through ephemeral means. The spatial definitions formed by partitions or physical barriers are permanent units, whereas the segmented spaces are mere recognitions that are transient and symbolic. Spaces need to be divided into smaller parts, as much as combined into a greater whole. The sub-unitized spaces are sometimes recombined by selective dissolution of the partitions and zoned identities are re-comprehended by redefining their purposes.

Patient recovery post-anesthesia care unit

6 Interconnected Rooms 16993145099_06b36824e3_c

The spatial entities have two sets of characteristics. 1 – A space with personal identity is a centred spread. It is focussed to the core and with variable peripheries. 2 – A space with identity of a group is of precise extent. It has an emphatic periphery. In the first instance the spatial quality emerges from the physiological and sensorial reach to others and objects. In the second instance, the group dynamics like customs of social distancing, sensorial responses for interactions and in recognition of age, sex and relationships between the people, define the space.

2 Amsterdam_Theatermuseum_chamber_theatre_backstage

The structural divisions in built-forms are finite zones for identity, isolation, privacy, security and environmental exclusivity. But these can be often too large or small. Small spaces need to be enlarged by transgressing to adjoining zones or even outsides, through the openings. These form convergent spaces with the adjoining zones, like verandahs, galleries, bay windows, etc. Large spaces have the scope for inverse or inward transgressions. The inward intrusions change the functional character and sensorial qualities by forming mew peripheries. Where sub-spaces are consistently used, these may be distinguished with built partitions.

5 GeneralFederation_of_WomensClubs_ca1910s_interior_LC

Partitions brand a space for exclusive use, private access and status quo. Once palace and manor kitchens had many roomettes like for cutlery, crockery, linen, cream and milk, bakery items, poultry, meat etc. The primitive cooking place was also meal taking place. These were structured storage units, but now have become segmented parts of kitchens, with better cabinets systems. And nowadays with continuous supply chain system very little storage segments are needed. Dirty kitchens forced dining to separate room. In modern times cooking is no longer dirty and cooking is not necessarily cook’s or housewives’ domain so cooking and dining both impinge on family rooms.

16 Winkles's_architectural_and_picturesque_illustrations_of_the_cathedral_churches_of_England_and_Wales_(1836)_(14780776171)

3 Church Pews 495312857_d80b33c790_c

To coalesce two structured spaces, the prime strategy is to relocate, resize or add openings between two. Next strategy is to combine the functions of two spaces. Family rooms and drawing rooms are no longer separate entities.

15 Venezuelan_Kitchen

Ephemeral divisions relate to delineation of areas for people, tasks, amenities, facilities, orientation and environmental affectations and sanctimony. Such delineated areas are customary and respected by the members of the family as much as by the community. Some areas are considered sacrosanct and require affirmation to rituals. The tasks conducted here in ephemeral divisions are variable in spread and transient in time. The spread is defined by the physical reach and the tools’ assisted range. Postural capacity and adjustability both rationalize the spread.

9 kitchen-fifties-sixties-seventies-style-retro

Ephemeral segmentation of space occurs with both, the Time and Space interventions. Time interventions allow use of same space for many different purposes. This avoids the conflicts of privacy, sanctimony, security, territorial ownership or access and sensorial mix-up. The Western Wall, Wailing Wall, Kotel or Buraq Wall, are different ephemeral divisions of Holy place in old Jerusalem. Spatial distancing and time delay allows reenforcement of individual identities but when at excessive scale creates alienation. The appropriate balance can have different meanings for the concerned persons, objects, activities, intentions etc.

10 Turkish culture-architecture-old-home

Defined or Abstract, space segments are recognition of the edges. The edges reflect three distinct spatial characteristics, namely, –Edge or Periphery, Core and the Adjunct.

In case of defined or structural divisions of a space, the edge as the barrier has a peripheral character. This is more so when the space spread is large enough to distinguish the core versus the periphery. The adjunct areas here have relevance, wherever the barriers are breached. In case of ephemeral divisions of a space, the edge is not real but just a recognition of extreme part of a spread. All ephemerally segmented spaces have unreal edges that converge with other domains. For segmented or partitioned spaces the periphery becomes the area of connections and variations. Besides the environmental variations and communication, it is also a point of control.

12 woman-sri-embroidering-embroidery

The housewife chooses a space segment, usually a verge, from where everything can be observed and controlled. The services area, cooking, dining and the entry, form such connected segments. In single room spaces like Bhunga or huts the door is such a control point.

14 Personal work spaces 17149638230_7d0cb3295e_c

The core is the place of task-handler, equipment or source+direction of environmental affectations and possibilities of control over other spaces. The core defining elements could even be sited abutting a structural element. Every other section beyond the active core is peripheral. A space gains a personal meaning when the activity conductor is the focus and everything is distanced from it.

18 ndian_Kathakar_Storyteller_1913

The societal intention of a space is not necessarily circular but rather a concentric one, where the periphery is the greatest distance before becoming irrelevant. The core and periphery are distinguished by the social distancing as a recognition of age and sex of the people. It can be personal at one level and also as accepted tradition or taboo. The personal need for segmenting a space is to accommodate the self, include other people.

11 Compartmental spaces india-rural-home-scenic

The personal space may not need compartmental divisions except for safety and security against displacement. Personal spaces flourish better with opportunities of interaction and participation in activities of others. This is possible if the spaces are only ephemerally segmented. The public spaces, if extensive, allow several segments to thrive.

8 Adjunct areas anguillara-rome-drying-laundry-housewife

13 Inward Adjunct spaces temple-ladakh-india-tibet-shrine-mystical

The adjuncts are sub core sections, which impinge the main spread, but in different time and space. The adjuncts spaces have nearly distinct identity and so are separable. Adjuncts share a similar architectural ethos, common sensorial experiences but with variegated environment. Verandahs, chowks, courtyards, terraces are such locations. Off-centric core areas occur for one person or point focussed concentration. These are cornered entities that only flourish with adjuncts acting as escape areas. Performance stages function only with side-wings and backstage support. Public spaces and plazas cannot survive without the adjunct streets. Public buildings exist with attached foyers. Multi-room homes are served by the lobbies.

1 Partitioned Stage theater-546611_1280


This is the 31st article (in continuation of old series -new beginning) on ISSUES of DESIGN.


PETER BEHRENS -Product Designer

Post 710 -by Gautam Shah



Peter Behrens (1868-1940) was a German artist, architect and designer. His creative conceptual clarity, art, products, architecture and typography all have influenced a generation in Europe. He was born in Hamburg. He studied painting at the School of Art in Karlsruhe (1886-1889). He spent the 1890s in Munich as a painter and designer, practicing in than current Jugendstil or German Art Nouveau style. He was actively involved with the Berlin Sezession group of artists, architects and designers in 1893.

Peter Behrens Products

Sezession was an Austrian and German group of progressive artists, who in 1892 (first in Munich and then in Berlin) formed a separate entity, breaking away from the conservative artists. The secession was a space for people from different backgrounds to work together to influence a new culture of German Modernism. The First World War created a negative impact on the Sezession but Hitler’s rule removed it from the scene.

2 Glasgo School of art

Peter Behrens was the co-founder of the Deutscher Werkbund, whose aim was to link industrialists and artists, paving the way for design-led technology.

The Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftsmen, German Labour League or German Work Federation was -ˈdɔʏtʃər ˈvɛrkbʊnd) was inspired by the Government, in 1907. Its initial concept was to bring together designers and manufacturers to integrate the traditional crafts and industrial mass production techniques. Its motto was ‘Vom Sofakissen zum Städtebau’ (from sofa cushions to city-building).

It became the most important group of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists, to support the development of modern architecture and industrial design. Werkbund was first led by Herman Muthesius. Other key members included Mies van der Rohe and Eliel Saarninen. This initiative later led to formation of the Bauhaus School of Design.

Werkbund members believed that unity and beauty of form was essential and saw industrialization as a force that demanded a re-calibration of the German aesthetic standards. They believed that German designers needed to shift their focus toward designing objects that could be mass produced, to object based on its functional logic, and that each object should be honest about its materials. Its mandate was to enhance the quality of German products in world markets, mainly England and United States in pre WW-I period.

3 Henry_van_de_Velde_-_Chair_-_1895

Peter Behrens (with Henry van de Velde and Muthesius) was also part of the original leaders who developed the philosophy of Gesamtkultur #a cohesive cultural vision where design was the central force for fresh, man-made environment. The visual language perceived for Gesamtkultur was bereft of ornamentation, in favour of simple and function. For the cohesive cultural vision and for re-configuring, optimizing and mechanizing their productions, they discussed all areas of design, graphic, typography, products industrial products design, architecture, textiles, etc. Hermann Muthesius had returned from England to Germany with Morris’s Arts & Crafts concepts, but here he was focussing on mechanizing the production with high-quality design and material integrity.

4 Haus Muthesius Musikzimmer

# Gesamtkultur, as a word was coined by 19th C German composer Richard Wagner, who saw his operas as a total work of art, synthesizing music, poetry, drama, theatre, costume, and set design. It is used for a work produced by a synthesis of various art forms.

18 Dining Room set Behrens

19 Behrens

Peter Behrens, began working as a painter, illustrator and bookbinder. He in 1899, under the influence of J. M. Olbrich moved from Art to Architecture. He was a self-taught architect. In 1899 Behrens accepted the invitation of the Grand Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse to be the second member of Darmstadt Artists’ Colony. Here Behrens built his own house as a debut in architecture. He also designed furniture, furnishings paintings etc. for it. This building in Jugendstil style (German equivalent of Art Nouveau style), though Behrens never lived in it, is considered to be the turning point in his life.

5 PeterBehrens-Affiche1901

Behrens became director of the School of Applied Arts in Düsseldorf (1903-1907). At Düsseldorf, Behrens became interested in Theosophist geometry. The curvilinear forms that he once used in own residence were now replaced with the rectilinear geometry. At Dusseldorf Behrens designed a remarkable building, the Crematorium in Hagen (1906), using the plane surfaces and incised linear decoration with experimental cubic symmetry of geometric volume. He also designed several other buildings in now sober and austere style. This included the Exhibition hall for the Northwestern German Art Exhibition at Oldenburg (1905). With new prestige, he began to frequent the bohemian circles and showed interest in subjects related to the reformation of the lifestyles.

6 Musik zimmer Haus Behrens Schiedmayer

Deutscher Werkbund principles of quality, as formulated in 1907 was the first theoretical formulation for pursuit of Quality. These concepts were so remarkable that several decades later QMS ( Quality Management Standards, ISO 9000) of the ISO and the SA (Social Accountability Standards ISO 8000) had similar foundations.

7 La maison de Peter Behrens (Musée_de_la_colonie_d'artistes,_Darmstadt)_(8728647639)

Germany was embracing a new philosophy and visual style for its simplicity and exactness. The new products, with their high level of functional utility and beauty were expected to build a new future for German exports. Behrens, with his multi disciplinary experiences was capable of designing things in diverse fields. As a product designer, in 1898, he designed glass bottles and different types of wine glasses. In 1907, Behrens was invited for the post of an artistic adviser to Germany’s largest electric company AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft, Berlin). He was required to form a monumental image for the prestige of the firm by arranging mass production with artistic expression. His job included design of electrical equipments, fixtures, branding packaging, catalogues, posters, architecture for factories and workshops.

8 Behrens Office

Peter Behrens, in Berlin office, between 1908-1911, designed five large industrial buildings. The Berlin office had during the period apprentices and design assistants like, Walter Gropius 1907-1910, Mies van der Rohe 1908-1910 and 1911-1912, and Le Corbusier, Adolf Meyer and Jean Kramer. Mies worked on interiors of two houses, AEG Small Motors Factory and Assembly Hall for Large Machines. Other works include Berlin Turbine factory, High Voltage Factory, AEG factory complex, two houses Cuno and the Schroeder, Osthaus -the site plan for a group of villas in Hohenhagen, Mannesmann Administration Building in Düsseldorf and the Gas Works in Frankfurt-Osthafen.

9 AEG Turbine factory facade.jpg

22 AEG Voltastraße Alte Fabrik für Bahnmaterial

25 Peter Behrens AEG High Tension Factory, Berlin

The Turbine Factory for AEG, of exposed steel, concrete, and large areas of glass was admired Le Corbusier as the ‘cathedral of labour’, in 1912. The Mannesmann Administration Building in Düsseldorf and the Gas Works in Frankfurt-Osthafen both, were designed in 1910-12.

17 Behrens Peter Hoechst administration offices 1920-27, central hall elevations

21 Behrens Hoechst administration offices 1920-27, central hall elevations

10 Project Mies

Behrens always made the final decisions and had total control of the design process. The clarity of the volumetric articulations is evidenced by the choice of the points of view. The buildings were always represented in relation to the environment. He showed an ability to express the materials in the facades through the representational graphics and in the reality of built form.

23 Peter Behrens Bau Oberhausen

11 The Mannesmann house

Design is not about decorating functional forms – it is about creating forms that accord with the character of the object and that show new technologies to advantage.’ –Peter Behrens.

13 Crematorium

The transition between this naturalistic period and his later activities, in the Berlin office show a search for new linguistic conventions based on abstraction, anti-naturalism and expressionism with a degree of monumentality. Peter Behrens remained head of the Department of Architecture at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. In 1922 he became a professor of Architecture at the Academy in Vienna, and thereafter little works of consequence emerged. Behrens became associated with Hitler’s urban dreams for Berlin. Hitler also admired Behrens’s Saint Petersburg Embassy.

14 Behrens's Saint Petersburg Embassy

From 1920 and 1924, he was responsible for the design and construction of the Technical Administration Building (Technische Verwaltungsgebäude) of Hoechst AG in Hoechst. In 1926, Behrens designed a home for Englishman Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke in Northampton, UK. It is regarded as the modernist house in Britain. In 1928 Behrens won an international competition for the construction of the New Synagogue, Žilina.

12 Peter Behrens Neologic Synagogue in Zilina 1928-1931

15 Behrens Mausoleum 1925, elevation + Plan

Behrens was AEG’s chief artistic advisor from 1907-1914 and is now considered the Father of Industrial Design. He designed several domestic products for use of electricity. The domestic products were conceived for mass production, utility and not have ‘impersonal’ identity. The objects include fan or Ventilatoren in 1908, light fixtures and electric teakettle. The Fan evolved from the first electric fan, created by Schuyler Wheeler in 1886, with variations in speed setting and wind direction. The electric kettle was the first product with immersion heating elements, integrated into the body of the kettle rather than placing it as an adjunct element. The kettles were produced in several shapes (cylindrical, octagonal or oval), materials (chromium and brass), and surface finishes. Of the possible 216 configurations only 30 were produced. He devised, the Sans serif fonts for the reductive graphic style. Behrens is credited with Schrift (1901-7), Antiqua (1907-9) and Medieval (1914), through Klingspor Type Foundry.

26 Behrens 1930 Berlin Bernauer Strasse subway




Post -by Gautam Shah



Interior spaces result as an organization of spatial configurations for specific conditions of environment, beliefs and group behaviour dynamics. However, for circumstantial reasons, it is not always feasible to achieve a perfect set in a given space, for the available technology and in required time. To overcome such deficiencies Interior spaces are endowed with make-believe inputs or effects.


The ‘make-believe’ is an economical substitute for the original or hypothetical entity (time, extent, money, effort). The ‘make-believe’ also offers an exciting tool for creation of new experiences.


We strongly associate specific experiences with entities like materials, technologies, spatial scaling such as size, proportions, texture, colour, illumination, frequency and schedules of occurrence etc. or temporal skewing like enhancing or delaying the event. However, for make-believe, such experiences are created by substituting the nominal entities with different materials and technologies, spatial scaling or time skewing. When the predictable effects fail to arrive in the nominal context, or arrive in spite of a different situation a delusion occurs. Make-believe effects are almost magical or ethereal, and defy logic or reason.


For example, our nominal experience tells us that dark spaces are cooler and quieter, and conversely bright spaces are noisier and warmer, but such expectations are sought to be replaced in maze and adventure tunnels of children parks. Night clubs are darker but noisier and prayer areas are brighter and yet quieter.


We are generally conditioned by predictable effects of the traditional or known materials. However, when we discover that any peculiar configuration or additional input creates an experience that is different from the one that is predictable, and we get a tool for a make-believe effect.


Mirrors play a very important role in creation of duplicate spaces. We are conditioned by the fact that load-bearing walls are opaque, so a glass wall seems different. Till recently transparent material like glass was flat and stiff plate, but plastics now allow two way curvatures, and can also be flexible. Rooms other than the nominal square or rectangular shape provide an unusual experience. Echoes and reverberation of sound provide predictable space dimensions, but different perception gives unusual experience of the space. Lights and shadows mould the visible space. Ionized air endows a garden like freshness in an otherwise stifled space. Indian epic Maha-Bharat mentions of a Laksha Griha (literally a house of Lac or wax), a place where solid looking floors were water surfaces, and water surfaces were real floors.


A society by a tacit understanding accepts certain words, signs metaphors, and indications as allowable and non allowable actions (warnings, danger, caution, etc.). When such commonly acceptable norms are displayed, they function almost like a real barricade. Signs like Caution, Danger, ‘Do not trespass’, ‘keep off the grass’, etc. operate as barriers. Metaphysical barricades are indicative and unreal, or make-believe. Make-believe barriers exploit the instinctive associations and conditioning of physiological and mental faculties.


In real life we do use the stage like make-believe and indicative effects. We use these to create situations that are called ‘dramatic or melodramatic’. Discotheques, Night Clubs, Amusement Parks, etc., are places where such make-believe effects are extensively exploited.




Post 704  –by Gautam Shah


This article is compiled from several Internet resources and my own lecture notes on Surface Finishes.

1 Footed Tray with Figures in a Landscape and Symbols of Seven Immortals LACMA

2 Footed Tray

Ryukyuan lacquerware (Ryukyu no Shikki) is the chief craft product of the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa Prefecture of Japan). Shikki incidentally, stands for lacquerware. Ryukyuan lacquerware represents a unique form and style distinct from the neighbouring places. These have three distinguishing features: the brilliant red colour of the background, gold patterns and use of inlay of mother of pearl. Many items and techniques of making the lacquerware of Ryukyuan, elsewhere in Japan and China are common. ‘Ryukyuan lacquers, yet, are neither purely Chinese nor purely Japanese’. The craft of making or decorating with lacquer is common in many Asian countries.

3 Red lacquer tray with gold engraving Song Dynasty

The art of Lacquerware came to Japan with Buddhism in mid 6th C from China through Korea. When Okinawa was the Ryukyu Kingdom, the lacquer items also came through trade with China during 14th and 15th C. Ryukyuan artisans over the years while exploiting, both the local and imported materials, matured the lacquerware into an ethnic craft by using Ryukyuan motifs.

21 Bowl with cover from Okinawa, 18th C Mother of Pearl Inlay work Wikipedia Image by Hiart Honolulu u_Museum_of_Art

20 Mother of Pearl

4 Lacquer case

Ryukyu, lacquerware have over the years seen several political upheavals, forcing imposition of new styles, but yet the most popular red lacquerware has survived such vagaries. During the 17th and 18th C, following the invasion of Okinawa by Satsuma the Chinese style black lacquerware production was made mandatory. It resulted in mixing up of Ryukyuan and Chinese styles lacquerware in single pieces.

5 Red Lacquer Cabinet with Butterflies

In Ryukyu, lacquerware like cups and bowls were used for offerings in religion rituals, whereas items such as necklaces and decorative utilitarian articles were offered for political gratification. The descendants of Ryukyu samurai and royalty used the lacquerware in formal places in order to forge a connection between people and the Gods. The royal Sho family of the former Ryukyu Kingdom have a set of lacquerware luncheon-basket, leg bowl and wine cups, cherished as the national cultural asset.

6 Chest with Peonies motifs LACMA

Ryukyu lacquerware, over the ages, have seen several modifications. These were, in earlier periods due to the change in patronage by the rulers and also inclusion of new patterns, materials and techniques in the repertoire. In modern times these have been mainly markets driven changes. ‘Chinkin’, the gold inlayed items had traditional vermilion and additional green lacquer. ‘Raden’ the flaked seashells inlayed articles were produced in red lacquer. In later periods Raden pieces were produced with green turban or marine snail shell over black lacquer. From 18th C other techniques were used, such as Hakue (foil lacquering) and Tsuikin (red lacquerware with raised designs). After the annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879, Ryukyu lacquerware began to be produced by private workshops and companies.

7 Cosmetic box Kamakura period 13th C plover design in Maki-e Lacquer Tokyo National Museum

4x5 original

Hakue consists of painting a design in lacquer with a makizutsu or a kebo brush and then applying gold leaf or gold-silver powder while the lacquer is half dry. Modern method uses gold, silver, copper, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, and pewter, as well as their alloys. The Maki-e method was initially used to decorate arms like swords, but adopted over lacquered surfaces.

8 Sutra Box Buddhist with Gold Ming Dynasty

Chinkin (Qiangjin in Chinese) technique is submerging or sinking gold as leaf or powder into carved cinnabar red-lacquered surfaces. This required very fine knife engraving work onto a polished surface. Ryukyu craft-persons preferred a variation of relief building the designs with lacquer putty, called Tsuikin, over the original Chinese method of lacquer (tsuishu) carving. Tsuikin, post 18th C is more common method. Thin sheets of Lacquer mixed with pigments are rolled out. From these various motifs are cut and applied to the craft-item. Due to its easy process, the Tsuikin is very popular process. Hananuri uses the contrast between vermilion and black lacquer. Raden uses seashell flake for inlay work. Mitsudae is a method oil painting (with lead-based pigments) motifs like flowers, birds and skies with white, pink and other bright pastel colours or coloured lacquers (iro-urushie).

10 Modern Vietnam Banana leaf motif in Gold leaf on a red background 1953

In the Heian period (794-1185), when in Japanese history Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their peak, sacred vessels and other articles used by temples of various faiths were of Maki-e style lacquerware. Similarly aristocrats, samurai families, merchants and artisan classes were using Maki-e style items as status symbol and proud possessions.

11 Dish (Pan)With Dragon amid Clouds LACMA

The lacquerware have evolved with many decorating techniques.

Lacquer as a raw material (resinous exudate or secretion of insects flourishing on certain trees), is not local. The material was brought to Okinawa through trade. Exclusive officers were appointed to supervise the production of lacquerware in the Ryukyu Kingdom.

12 Chest with Cartouche Figures on Donkeys in a Landscape Magnolias Plum Blossoms Peonies Birds and Butterflies LACMA

Local woods of Okinawa, such as Deigo coral tree, Sendan or bead tree, Egokoki, Gajumaru, with uniform grains are used.

13 Seal Box with Lotus scrolls & Eight buddhist symbols Red lacquerincised with Gold Qiangjin style

■ Okinawa islands are part of the northern limit of Black sea current which offers the hardest turban shells. Use of wafer-shin shell, prepared by boiling the shell in water for about a week and then pulverizing it (mijingai-nuri) is a local technique. The mix of pulverized shell and lacquer, after applications are rubbed to make a smooth surface (roiro-togidashi).

19 Korean Box, Lacquer inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell

15 Gold Lacquer work Tray Japan 19 C

Ryukyu, lacquerware motifs include papaya, plantain, palm trees, hibiscus chrysanthemums, peonies, and other representations of islands’ coastal zone flora. Similarly local and exotic birds and animals, such as long-tailed hens, wagtails (genus Motacilla), chicken, swallows, wagtails, sparrows, mandarin ducks, peacocks and peonies, and a fictional phoenix is found here. Designs that combine and depict flowers and birds are called kachō-zu. Many non local motifs were included to serve the export markets.

Digital Capture

17 Channapatna India Lacquer coated toys

Lacquer coating is common in many parts of the world. Thin lacquer coatings or as applied in multiple layers, nominally do not crack or peel off the surface. Lacquers with additives like wax or oil as plasticizing agents can be applied on many surfaces.

16 Sake Bowls with Lacquer motifs

Shellacs finishes, were the first true clear coatings. Sankheda (Gujarat India) 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. Modern synthetic version NC (nitro-cellulose) lacquer provides a very clear and superior film compared to a shellac and maleic modified resins. Lacquers are modified with alkyds, other synthetic resins and plasticizer so as to control adhesion, softness, toughness and malleability. At fixed levels of viscosities it is possible to formulate lacquers with variable solid contents by varying the degree of molecular linkages. This property renders lacquer as the most versatile coating material for wood, metal, metal foil, leather, fabrics, fibers, plastics, stones, metals, glass, masonry, paper, ceramics, grasses (cane, bamboo), human hair and skin.

Lacquerware from across the world

Links to My other articles















Post 703 –by Gautam Shah


8 BMW Welt, Munich, Germany Wikipedia Image by Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa)

In art and design, we deal with forms, as holistic or composed entities. The holistic entities also turn compositions, when these are expressed through contexts like media (frame or the extent), setting (site, environment, landscape, illumination), or referenced (orientation, location, sensorial exposition). The pursuit of creativity is at several stages, in realizing the holistic form or graduating to a state of holism after the composition. The assimilation of several elements into a ‘formal’ composition creates a ‘striking’ arrangement, ‘balanced’ placements and an ‘organization’ with synergy and potency of new possibilities.

10 sage-4331425_640

For holistic forms, the creator, if the scale permits, can roll the entity to have an all-around experience, but the moment it is rested or delivered it gains a setting. For holistic forms that are too large, the roll around occurs over a ground, and that becomes its defacto rest. Holistic forms like sculptures or art installations have no functional livability, but as a static structure must rest and get set. Dynamic entities like balloons, space capsules or stations are rotated axially and sometimes three dimensionally to create a ‘dynamic equilibrium’.

9 Experience Music Project, Seattle,WA,USA Gehry Wikipedia Image by EMP-SFM

For composed entities it is necessary to have a bearing. Primarily it is the ‘ground’ where these sit, tie up or rest. And where such provisions do not exist, the bottom of the composition (closer to the omnipresent gravity) becomes one. Elements of the composition at the lower half of the field are closer to the ground and so perceived to be more static. The stability is also enhanced by elements of composition with mass wider in the lower parts. Inclusion of lighter elements such as air, water, sky, flowers, develops a sense of ethereal floatation. Surreal art has not escaped the gravity.

13A Michelangelo ART Ethereal floatation The Creation of Adam

13 Jeremy geddes defying the Gravity

Holistic or composed entities of art and design can remain personal, if are fleeting expressions. But most other expressions, to reach a wider community, must persist. Grounding is the first step towards the persistence. Grounding is related to the force de majeure, the gravity. Grounding creates a balance. Its lack unnerves our sense of regularity, but its oddity excites us. The balance is about distribution of mass around the vertical and across the perceptible zone. Vertical is the post struggle phase of gaining the equilibrium.

11 When Horses Gallop by Andres Barrioquinto

The height of the vertical is always referenced to the horizontal of the ground. The depth of perception stretches the ground in perspective, and proportionately reduces the vertical.


Some form of equipoise is sought for compositions. The balance with equipoise forms symmetry. For equipoised balance the elements around vertical must remain with it, bearing the same effect of gravity, but their repositioning can cause un-equipoise. The symmetry around the vertical, however, is affected by the position of the vertical in the field of perception.

Delhi, Lotus Temple

7 Holistic form Matrimandir Temple of The Mother Auroville Pondichery India

Symmetry is more apparent in visual fields as two eyes can focus to a single object. Two ears need some attenuation to perceive the balance. For the sensation of touch balanced localization is difficult to achieve. Smell and taste buds have singular identity, but spatially too close for distinctive perception of balance.

15 Paul Klee

The zone of perception varies in extent and over time, mainly due to changes in contextual conditions and environment.

6 46702528731_15c7cc5a6c_c

The holistic entities are of many types, copycats, metaphoric or abstract. Copycats duplicate the original in altered scale, sensory (colour, texture) effects and purposes. The metaphoric expressions could be literal models or images of human or other beings (in natural or grotesque form). The abstract presentations remain obscure for their imagery or meaning.

5 Escultura de Frank Gehry El Peix, fish sculpture located in front of the Port Olímpic, in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain 1992

The composed creations, unlike the holistic ones have many elements, some are mutually related, due to the purpose, proximity, similarity, counter balancing, scale, massing, etc. These constituents individually or in combinations evoke the past experiences. The past experiences are subjective and fluid. A composition remains a frame in a time slot of a happening.


14 VR offers a way out of the inhibitions for Surrealist Art Movement relativity-escher




Post 701 –by Gautam Shah


This is the 5 th article of series: ‘CORNERS’.

Earlier articles were > 672 The CORNER -metaphor / 673 The CORNER in City / 678 CORNERS and Neighbourhoods / 696 CORNERS and Public Spaces.

1 The work place in the corner Wood engraver

A work-nook was the historical culture of work space. The private work area was mainly used for reading and writing, and only occasionally for interaction with others. Work desks were wall abutting storage cabinets with a foldout work surface. The work zone was located in the corner of a large room. In Northern Europe, the desks were placed on a slightly raised platform. The platform and the corner position both helped to keep it protected from cold draughts, in unheated rooms. The corner was the least participating space and so secluded one. In ancient walls load-bearing structures, the corner did not allow any opening. In later periods, when window glasses were clear to provide decent view, the work nooks were placed beside the openings.

2 Newman's desk facing a wall in the Birmingham Oratory Wikipedia Image by Lastenglishking

For personal, reading and writing, a work place in the form of a bureau desk was fairly a functional entity. A visitor, though had to stand or sit on the side. And for a professional like a lawyer or public servant, the interactions with a group of visitors were awkward. And yet the bureau desks remained the only form of work-tables for more than 600 years, till about mid of 20th C.

3 room-1925065_640

The bureau desk, by itself, was fairly compact and a functional entity. It could be placed almost anywhere in a room or shifted around. It did not require any other adjunct pieces of furniture except a seat. Its most important character was its single person’s utility. It was not a participatory entity. The sitting person faced the wall and so lacked the authority.

4 5f63be4fc2e40189129f2695258d7d0a

5 William Carey Used Desk - Carey Museum - Serampore College - Hooghly

There were other work-tables or platforms in the built spaces. Kitchens had food preparation work-tables or platforms close to cooking fires. These platforms served as dining tables and sleeping beds for servants. But people seating around a table, equally participating in discussions, was more democratic. Such a participatory set-up was inconceivable for the boss who wished to be different from others.

7 ART by Pieter Brueghel the Younger The Village Lawyer Office --There no place for the visitor

Historically, the democratic nature of the kitchen table and the non-participatory bureau desk, both coexisted. The kitchen table mainly used for food preparation and dining had marked positions for house members. At the head side of the table -a chair with handles, was the master’s or president’s chair. The bureau desk, primarily a work-unit, later found a place in the dining pantry areas for storing china and cutlery. This was later placed in bedrooms as a multi-utility storage system.

8 Ancient kitchens had a multipurpose work table

6 table-wood-vintage-mansion-house-floor-782102-pxhere.com

The bureau desks moved from homes to commercial establishments, as the boss’s place. The bureau desk was a wall abutting unit, and so it was easy to source the services like electricity, telephones etc. It was placed on the inner side of the office room, perhaps, the boss did not like anyone to be on his backside. Such bureau desks were boss’s privilege. The commercial establishments had ill-defined positions for others like assistants, secretaries or visitors.

11 Antique Office Photograph 1920s

9 Antique Office Photographs, ca. 1920s (30)

Forty years ago, a corner office, with two side corner windows was most sought after position by any executive. In the interior side it had furthest location. This was easy to provide in buildings with small foot print, advantageous multi face sites and fewer executives per floor. But in dense urban localities, due to high costs, the executive offices were smaller and large in numbers. Architects were forced to find ways to add more corners to the buildings.

12 The work position equals to status in the setup 2899334278_9ac1ee5808_z

In early businesses there was a strong hierarchy of work positions based on social connections and seniority of age. One could enter an organization and continue to be promoted till one died. There was no retirement edge. In the meanwhile, an employee is consistently on the move, from a larger desk, position near a window, exclusive telephone connection, a partitioned cubicle to a personal cabin. The moves were not always well marked or visible.

13 Staff in office perceive heirarchy 34583518715_2df4f6e20c_z

Multitasking lol

A corner is like a cone of a megaphone, one can express loudly and compel others to listen, like happened in an amphi theatre. The wider end can bring in noise, like the wine glass for eavesdropping. A corner work place, simultaneously works both ways, so it is not a desirable place to occupy.

16 Work desks ee39cbf2778841b69455615c13b3dcb4

15 Lower staff moved away 13545193213639

One would not want to be cornered, at least willingly, but in the commercial setup, top executives seek it. A corner office was a sought after place. It had prestige and had windows on two exterior walls. Most office work spaces have one window or none at all. Corner offices were called C-suites. Corner offices were furthest on the floor and one had to cross several planned and unintentional hurdles to reach it. To avoid such a situation, the C-suites were stretched right up to the reception area, taking up quarter or more space of the floor. This spread matched the prestige associated with the space, but thetoilers of the office avoided visiting it, unless promoted to it’.

17 Corneroffice

10 bureau desks in old offices 170216oldoffice

Cubicles or cabins were interim destinations for the executives on way to the corner-offices. The cubicles or cabins always occupied the peripheral edge, for the window view. When buildings had small footprints or narrow widths, the peripheral preference did not disturb the daytime illumination. But with large space commercial buildings, the low level staff was denied daytime illumination and outside views. The cubicles or cabins were opaque barricaded, for the perceived threat of sound leakage. The corner office had least interior edge exposure and so offered more privacy. The physical isolation had however, no relevance when with telephone one could connect to anyone. The glass partitions dissolved the edge.

18 Corner Offices architecture-1031283_640

19 architecture of creating corners 1269967 httpspxhere -comenphoto1269967

Buildings once substantially depended on natural light and thermal management (heating, cooling, ventilation). The offices had two distinct spatial divisions. The best sections were on the outer periphery occupied by people engaged in core business, whereas the inner areas were of compromised environment and housed the staff engaged in data management and communication.

21 office-room-classroom-design-commercial-business-people-553428-pxhere.com

The conditions began to change in the corporate world, post WW-II. The Senior positions were filled, not through promotion within, but negotiated migrations of talent. Earlier promotion was accompanied by designated spatial status like cabin or cubicle, but now the demand was freedom to work anywhere and any time, even beyond the spatial boundaries of the ‘work-place’.

27 Working from Home 2478049891_5104b4d028_z

The capacity to work at home, has intensified the urge for social contact with the colleagues. Physical encounters are required, and for this a variety of spaces are required. The need for variety is fulfilled by hired spaces, often away from the town. Little business is talked here, but social assurance is available.

27 Informal office Coworking Space in Hanoi.jpg

The changed work-culture attitudes have forced new configurations for interior space planning and forms of architecture. Millennials want no Hierarchy but Holocracy. Holocracy is a decentralized management system with a flatter power structure, where everyone is a leader. It distributes authority and decision-making throughout the organization.

20 3344142642_c4d3bfa042_b

New offices have corner spaces but used for meeting or relaxation (coffee rooms). The work environment is where people work from any table in the office. At home or coffee shop. Designing open office work-spaces is very different. New offices (not to be confused with open plan office layout) are much smaller, and efficient in space-use than the old offices.

23 Gulf_Worldwide_Sales_&_Marketing_Team

26 1940 census workers transferring data to punch cards and yet volumes were hu 7024456499_6054e068ab_z

Offices or Work places have seen revolutionary changes in Form and Functions, because Technological and consequent Social changes demand it. During the last century, the changes have substantially related to the data management modalities. Once upon time, public offices had to allot 40-50% space for storage systems, and substantial proportion of staff was used for fetching, filing, classifying, copying, printing, storing, arranging, retrieving, distributing the data within the office, and dispatching it beyond the office. The data management now relies on remote access and virtual storage systems. The communication was once physical, and required lots of passage spaces, staff, messengers and personal contact.

Corner Desk