Sunday, 21 February 2010

The elements of design

I don’t know how widely known this book is but I find it endlessly fascinating and I quite frequently pull it out for a quick browse even though I have seen all the images many times. I have had my copy for several years but it is still in print and I urge any artist who doesn’t already own a copy to try to obtain one.

Back cover

For a description of the book I cannot do better than quote from inside the front flap,

The bark of a plane tree in Paris; a detail of a cotton towel in Japan; sunset in the Egyptian desert; soil in the Yosemite National Park, California; a tiled floor in Bangkok; a wall in Ferrara; an iron cart wheel in Antwerp…colours, textures, forms and shapes are the basis of this unique sourcebook that reveals the elements common to all design and literally teaches us ‘how to see’.  Hauntingly beautiful and deeply instructive, it surveys our whole environment, natural and manmade, and shows how it can be defined in terms of basic elements: variable arrangements of dots; lines that are straight, curving, bending or crossing; planes such as rectangles, squares, lozenges, triangles and circles.

All these are represented, with telling juxtapositions, in a wide range of materials and techniques, in one sense timeless and universal, in another datable and culturally conditioned. Ever-recurring design elements, they take us to the heart of the creative process: a transformation that may involve inspiration or imitation, representation or interpretation.

Destined to become a cult book for artists, designers and craftspeople of all kinds, as well as being an important educational tool, this amazing volume is a startling reminder of how the search for something new is a voyage of rediscovery into past and present form.

The book contains 177 colour illustrations and here are a few images as they are shown on opposing pages.
   Brick wall,Troyes, France.                  Detail of woollen kilim, Central Turkey.
          Woman's hat, Zulu people,      Cotton bag, applique, China.

  Drain covers, Antwertp, Belgium         Detail of blouse,Tokyo, Japan.



layers said...

Ian, I have this book and I LOVE it-- you beat me to it as I was going to do a post on it as well-- I have had my book for several years too and go though it often myself--I also highly recommend it.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Well, that does it. I must get this book too! Thank you Ian and Donna.

Ian - I am in awe of your exquisite sense of minimalist sensitivity. I would never know you came to painting later in life. What a gift you have given yourself - to paint.

nancy neva gagliano said...

i have bought more books this last year thanks to bloggers ...and happy that this one is still in print.
i can see why you return to it...your paintings still just amaze that top one in your sidebar.

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Hi Ian,

I myself do not have this book and it certainly looks like a winner and I can see why you like it.

Like Donna, I have in the works a post on a couple of design books, one I have had since 1967.

Wishing yo all he best,

Caterina Giglio said...

I have seen this book, but I guess I will have to try to acquire it!

merci33 said...

I'm sold...thank you for the beautiful introduction and helps to know in advance that what we're investing in is worthy...clearly this is.

merci33 said...

oh...thanks Ian!! for stopping over to peek at my experiment with shoes :-)...invitationals can be a bit odd when they dictate a theme but they can also be a lovely challenge... as this was.

I've ordered your book recommendation and cannot wait to turn the pages...thanks twice!

indigomar said...

I've visited your blog a few times via merci33's blog. The book looks like a good one and I'll be ordering it. Thanks!

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi, just discovered your blog and I like your work (and those photos of the roots? trunk? of that plant (in b&w). Thanks also for the book recommendation. It sounds so wonderful that I just requested it from my library.

Seth said...

This looks like a great book. And I can see why you would go back to it over and over for inspiration. Thank you for the info.

Mostly Turquoise said...

Thanks Ian, I too could not resist ordering it after your recommendation!

Regina, SXM

merci33 said...

My copy of Elements of Design has arrived...I think that's the fastest delivery on record...It's beautiful and filled with artist eye amazement... I know that it will be a forever favorite...thanks so much Ian!

Martha Marshall said...

This book looks like a must-have. Thanks for the introduction!

ArtPropelled said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Ian. I had not seen this book before but I've now ordered it. Your sidebar is filled with interesting things and I love the two paintings you sold recently.

Kaylyn Munro said...

what a delightful site! So glad I found it (via Jala Pfaff's blog). Its very refreshing to see some strong nonrepresentational work along with interesting commentary and reading suggestions in the blog net.


Sondra said...

Hello Ian,
I also have this book and I totally agree, it is a gem and well worth having.
Wishing you the best,

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