Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Speaking Squares and Rectangles

When we last analyzed stripes in our design agenda, we wondered what it would be like to analyze shapes of different kinds, so here's one on squares and rectangles.

Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red by Piet Mondrian (1937 - 1942)
Visually, squares and rectangles have, since the beginning of pattern-making, been a prominent feature, both for their visual simplicity as well as their architectural function. Squares and rectangles as a shape are stable and they suggest honesty. They have right angles and represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality. They are seen as earthbound. In fact the majority of text we read is set in a square or rectangle. 

"Life Aquatic" Modern Home Decor Ultra Modern Abstract Metal Art by: Jon Allen
Both squares and rectangles also suggest conformity, peacefulness, solidity, security, and equality. Their familiarity and stability, along with their commonness can almost seem mundane sometimes. As they are generally not attention getters, but can be tilted to add an unexpected twist. Think of web pages that tilts framed images to help them stand out and even tilts and frames in photography, cinematography etc. 

NYC in squares Photograph - NYC in squares Fine Art Print - Emily J Photography
Both shapes draw attention to the space around them and the space within, the former unlimited and the latter limited, a point of opening and convergence and metaphorically, all parallels meet in a square or rectangle. Symbolically, they represent convention, a system or a society that has a predictable manner of conduct and set rules. 
Plastic disc dress, Gareth Pugh, featured in Vogue (UK), A/W'07
In design it these shapes bring organization through connection and separation, they symbolize ideas, create movement and texture and lead the eye from one design element to the next. This essential vocabulary is a building block of the language of design. And on rugs they do all of these to create the most exquisite patterns and designs. 
An interesting video on making most of a square!

These shapes take a natural occurance in life with eveything falling into these shapes in both simple and complex form!

Text: Wooly Eyes
Images: Sources mentioned under the images

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