Thesis Topic Proposal : Design and Scale

by guy keulemans on September 24, 2008

All object designers must at some point consider scale.

Scale is important both internally within an object and externally to its location and surrounding architecture.

Scale often exists in measurements and parameters that are based in old systems or technology, such as measurements such as the yard (distance of an old English King’s arm). Even newer and logically astute measurements systems force a rigidity onto design due to the acceptability of “round” numbers. What furniture designer works in fractions of a millimetre? This can be called the “grain” of a measurement systems.

In a purely digital environment, and increasingly in computer controlled manufacturing, these kinds of limitations are redundant…. models can be scaled, shrunk and enlarged at will. But to what extend do the internal proportions of an object need to adapt to fit the external environment or function? Font designers have known this for sometime, that serifs need to be thickened to improve readability at small sizes, and refined for large sizes. But can such techniques be applied to objects?

What extent to designers consider variations and perceptions of scale in nature as inspiration?

How can the perception of detail changing over distance be exploited for dramatic effect?

Dolls House Cup (Design by Scale) by Frontdesign
Garamond in different sizes by Adobe
Tropical zoanthid coral, Okinawa, seen from 5 different distances, photography by Guy Keulemans.

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