Friday, September 21, 2012

4-d design page two...

Harmony is the second principle of effective design whether we are talking about 2-d, 3-d or 4-d as in design of curricula, schools, classroom activities, etc. Harmony in a classroom or working situation is not necessarily a whole bunch of folks doing exactly the same thing. In a harmonious classroom, or in an object  or painting that expresses harmony, there are variations, coordinated by design to work together.  In thinking about harmony we realize that teacher's job is far larger than some might think and has to do with what goes on inside and outside the classroom doors. Even how a teacher may be regarded within the community at large is a matter of importance. Reader Mario in a comment to yesterday's post mentioned his  feelings at the head of the class when things were going just right, those of being a conductor of an orchestra. If only teachers in our society could be held in such high regard.

For simplicity sake, and with deep regard for the theory of Sloyd, we can use the concrete to examine the abstract.  This box at left is one of my favorites.

Just as a musical composition uses rhythm to engage the listener, this box uses rhythm to visually engage and incite touch. The pegs holding the box together are arranged in an orderly, rhythmic manner. As a percussive counterpoint, careful gouge markings that  provide texture on the hinges, edges and base also establish a sense of rhythm, more chaotic than the bass note arrangement of pegs. And yet the two rhythms engage in harmonious discourse. Rhythm is one of the design tools used in 2-d, 3-d and 4-d design to help establish both a sense of unity and harmony within a painting, a box, or a classroom activity.

This box also offers an example of the harmonious use of color. The spalted hickory and walnut used in making this box are strikingly dissimilar in color, but while the walnut is a uniform rich red-brown, the hickory grain expresses that same color as lines of grain on a background of a contrasting tone. The colors of the woods used in a piece need not be exactly the same to convey a sense of harmony, just as all voices in a choir or orchestra must not be exactly the same tone.  The variations in the color of the hickory actually extend a clear invitation to the woodworker to use walnut as a contrasting wood. The richness of a classroom experience is also based on harmonious expression of diversity. For contrast, consider the very old method of classroom recitation learning, where all the students were required to repeat exactly the same words or numbers at exactly the same time, to learn by drilling information into their heads.

A third element of design used in this box to create a sense of harmony is that of movement. Lines of grain encircle the knot, and lead the eye across the piece giving a sense of flow. Harmony in a classroom must be going someplace, in a direction that each student and the teacher can grasp and understand, and toward which each aspires.

Make, fix and create...

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