Design Tribute

ROWENA REED KOSTELLOW

Back in 2014, I got my hands on a book “Elements of design”, getting quoted that ” it is the Bible of form design”. I could not wait more to read it and was introduced to one of the most prolific design critique and an inseparable part of American industrial design education. The book held in a lot of surprises awaiting for me in terms of how forms work , what should be their purpose, how should you brain storm and pull your neurons to make a design look good from each perspective. As she quotes ” If you can’t make it more beautiful, whats the point ?”

Asymmetry was one of the main ways of expressing her ideas. The fact that it had to be asymmetrical was a style. It came from her need to explore and discover. “Symmetry is a beautiful concept, but what is symmetrical is seen instantly”. There is no adventure, no investigation.

Reed herself justified the focus on asymmetry in her teaching as a part of her pedagogical strategy. “Symmetry is beautiful but it is easy”, she told her students. “Any dancer can straight on 2 feet.

It’s assuming a dynamic posture with one leg in the air that’s difficult. We demand the dynamic axis because most people can’t handle it. You strengthen your design muscles by becoming disciplined, by learning to do the most difficult things. That will allow you to express yourself more clearly and strongly because you will be able to control exactly what you want to say.”

One needs intuitive understanding of form and space. There aren’t the same kind of rules as there are in physics or math, but there are rules you can work by. It’s a matter of understanding relationships, and that is more of intuitive experience than a practical one.

Rowena was adamant that the only way to create 3 dimensional forms was to work 3 dimensionally. It was her mantra “all 3 dimensional projects should be designed 3 dimensionally. You can’t develop a good 3-D design on paper. That’s like drawing a piece of sculpture. You have to deal with negative space , & you can’t do that in 2 dimensions.

The most important gift that she gave to her students was the ability to create a sense of unity. The recognition that if you take away of piece, the falls apart. Its a tool that you can use forever, and it grows and grows if you allow it to !!


P.S. ” If you can’t make it more beautiful, whats the point ?” ALMOST
ANYBODY CAN DO IT THE OTHER WAY.

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