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“Here we can see the magnificent brick wall in its natural habitat…”

“Design safari.” So I’m doing a title that’s a parody of David Attenborough? Get it? HAHAHAH. God I’m tired. So let’s start with something my life doesn’t have much of right now, and move on to…

Unity,  rhythm, balance and proportion

Unity

The majority of buildings you come across have a certain sense of “togetherness” about them, right? If it’s a good design, all of the lines, building materials, shapes and proportions used to construct the building will come together in an aesthetically pleasing way. Lee Hall is a fantastic example of this—the windows and columns provide rhythm and balance that both unifies and defines the overall space, and each element is properly proportioned in relation to every other element. The architecture behind the facade of Lee Hall pulls from some classic elements (check out those columns, baby! Are those ionic? Doric? A historic pres major could probably clue you in), while also pulling from more modern traditions to keep the aesthetic accessible to passerby (the windows, for example). Finally, the building is beautifully balanced and is more or less bilaterally symmetrical. Combined, Lee Hall has a strongly unified aesthetic, as to many of the buildings on campus, which is probably why UMW is considered so beautiful.

Dominance, color and typography

Dominance

The dominant elements on this (quite delicious) wine bottle are, of course, the red images at the top of the label and the red text at the bottom. On such a sparse white label anything is bound to stand out, especially if much of the space is left unused. However, because of the dark color of the wine and the bottle itself, the black text seems to fade into the rest of the design, leaving the red text and image to stand out even further. The font chosen for the dominant text on the label is also extremely simple, emphasizing the message over the medium of delivery. This makes the fluid, natural lines of the red image even more striking in contrast.

Typography  and symbols/metaphors

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aether_bunny/8065971191

I chose the Volkswagen symbol as my typography example because I feel like it’s not one that many people would think about. While technically a symbol that represents the brand of car, it’s made up of two distinct letters, W and V. The symbol itself was strategically designed to look pleasing to the eye and to be easily replicated on the bodies of cars, while also suggesting the Volkswagen brand in a compact way. In using letters to create symbols, we often cross into a weird gray area between one design element and another, but the best designs often skillfully manipulate that middle ground to create a lasting image using two or more elements. I feel like the VW logo is an excellent example of a well-executed combo, but I’d still put it in the category of typography because the main element used in the design is letters.

Color, balance and rythm

Color

While it’s not super clear from this photo, all bricks are not created equal. They’re crafted in batches, each one a specific color or group of varying colors, and when a building is designed a specific pattern of bricks is chosen for the facade. It’s not at all random, and we often take for granted that there are hundreds of brick colors and patterns to choose from when a building is designed. I chose this as my example of “color” because it’s often overlooked, but it’s a massively important part of building design, and everything from cost to the aesthetics of surrounding buildings to the whims of the contractor can influence which color of brick is chosen.

 

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