The Beginnings of Design

We can debate when design began; but for me, it began with the creation of earth.  Whether you subscribe to the Big Bang Theory or more traditional Creation theories, design was there at the beginning.  As soon as man made an appearance on earth, evidence indicates that he made his mark on design.

So much of our current design ideas come from nature and culturally from what is available in a given region.  Man’s cave drawings and his need to create music are shown in every culture and place on earth where man has existed.

My inspiration for this topic began at a breakfast place when I saw a wallpaper in the distance and could not discern the pattern other than a stylized block print.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that the artist had used the silhouette of a rooster in a single color on a white background that formed a square pattern.  From a distance, it looked like a slightly elaborate geometric pattern, when in fact it was a simple barnyard animal.  Very clever!

We have just returned from Phoenix where we visited the Musical Instrument Museum, a fascinating place that will interest people with musical leanings or for those who only play the radio.

What fascinated me was the evidence of ornamentation on even the most simple and sometimes crude musical instruments from the earliest times.  It is not surprising that design for the sake of design improved and became more intricate and elaborate as cultures became more sophisticated.

One thing that did surprise me, was the presence of bagpipes in nearly every culture.  While the Scots are known for their bag- pipes, many cultures had some variation of the instrument.  Drums, pipes, horns and stringed instruments were found throughout history and again, every culture seemed to have some variation of them.  The use of animal skins as instruments, and as decoration was as interesting as the music they played.

Recognizing natural and ordinary objects that surround us helps us understand that art is everywhere. So many things can be interpreted as an art form.

The designs found on the musical instruments show us that making beautiful music is not enough; we need to make the actual instrument beautiful as well.  Sometimes, it is simply the form, like a violin with its sensual lines, that helps create the beautiful sounds, along with the particular wood and finishes that help the sound resonate.  However, I think most people would agree it is a beautiful instrument; it is used to play classical sounds or the fun, country fiddle sounds that make everyone want to move, clap their hands and stomp their feet.

Nearly everything that man touches shows signs of his ability tocreate design whether it is for function or simply for beauty.  We never would have reached the moon without design.  Without nature, it is unlikely we would have found flight possible; following the flight of birds and incorporating their form and aerodynamics is truly a thing of beauty and an undeniable art form.

Look around you and identify how art is in everything we use.  Man needs to express himself in artful ways, a most basic expression along with making music.