Scientifically speaking, true beauty is balanced. Balance can be anything—the peacefulness of Zen, the wildness of nature, or even the oddities of Alice in Wonderland. But regardless of its type, it always makes sense. A good designer can balance the unbalanced and make anything beautiful.
In many cases, designs break with the traditions or rules, creating that slight difference between what was and what has always been. If a designer or artist breaks with tradition just for the sake of the act alone, the result is not necessarily design or art. It may be considered entertaining, creative, or merely art because of the artist’s celebrity status. It is only when the creator breaks the rules or the traditions with a specific purpose in mind—having put real thought into the act—that the artwork or design becomes something more meaningful.
To be able to do this, it is necessary to know the foundation, i.e. the traditions and rules. The history of the designs or designers is extremely interesting to know, but this is secondary because this knowledge is necessary to be able to break any of those rules yourself. Being different just for the sake of being different is not the key to creating timeless designs. Knowing and understanding why things were done, making profound changes to those things, and creating a new kind of harmony, is.
Anna Demuylder—Inspired by ‘Are rules meant to be broken in design?’, a panel discussion with leading designers Mary McDonald, Suzanne Kasler and Thomas O’Brien, moderated by Jo Saltz at ‘Legends of Design 2019’ (organized by La Cienega Design Quarter).