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Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition [Paperback]

Kimberly Elam
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Geometry of Design, Revised and Updated: Studies in Proportion and Composition Geometry of Design, Revised and Updated: Studies in Proportion and Composition
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2001 Design Briefs
At last, a mathematical explanation of how art works presented in a manner we can all understand. Kimberly Elam takes the reader on a geometrical journey, lending insight and coherence to the design process by exploring the visual relationships that have foundations in mathematics as well as the essential qualities of life. Geometry of Design-the first book in our new Design Briefs Series-takes a close look at a broad range of twentieth-century examples of design, architecture, and illustration (from the Barcelona chair to the Musica Viva poster, from the Braun handblender to the Conico kettle), revealing underlying geometric structures in their compositions. Explanations and techniques of visual analysis make the inherent mathematical relationships evident and a must-have for anyone involved in graphic arts. The book focuses not only on the classic systems of proportioning, such as the golden section and root rectangles, but also on less well known proportioning systems such as the Fibonacci Series. Through detailed diagrams these geometric systems are brought to life giving an effective insight into the design process.

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About the Author

Kimberly Elam is chairperson of the Graphic and Interactive Communication Department at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Within the context of the man-made environment and the natural world there is a documented human cognitive preference for golden section proportions throughout recorded history. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! July 5 2002
Why do we instinctively admire the 1997 update of the Volkswagon Beetle? Why are Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona chairs of 1929 still relevant in twenty-first century interior design? Why have everyday Braun kitchen products achieved iconic status in museum settings?
In her pithy (101 page) essay, GEOMETRY OF DESIGN: STUDIES IN PROPORTION AND COMPOSITION, Kimberly Elam admirably succeeds in illuminating fundamental concepts underlying successful modern design. Through the elegance of Elam's arguments, readers are painlessly introduced to a set of mathematically-based compositional elements developed in classical antiquity and reflected in acknowledged masterpieces of later design. From the Parthenon and Notre Dame de Paris to Mies van der Rohe's Chapel at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and from Leonardo's "Man Inscribed in a Circle" and a chambered nautilus to Le Courbusier's "Chaise Lounge", selected works succumb to Elam's acute analysis of successful proportioning and composition. Her exploration of these fundamentals, including the dynamic rectangles exemplified by the Golden Section and the European DIN Root 2 system (so different from the sectioning system used in American design), is aided by the excellent vellum overlay diagrams.
So much of our response to art and design is intuitive, and we categorize as outstanding those works from which we derive intense aesthetic pleasure. The efficiency, the very orderliness which form their basis is a revelation. Elam's book is a classic and very readable summation of the foundation of successful design.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not so good as an introduction Nov. 17 2002
So I am given this book by a colleague and told that it's a great book to teach proportion in art from. It has got some pretty and neat overlays, but I feel like it manages not to say very much. Also... there's something about this book that feels like there's an entire context that you're missing when you read it- I felt as though I was reading a math textbook in parts, that the focus wasn't nearly enough on how you as an artist can work an understanding of geometry into your own work. Also, pages 34 and 36 start with the same sentence.
I just feel.. confused after reading this. I have only 2 notebook pages of notes, double-spaced. I feel like this book can be summed up by: "The human eye instinctively likes certain proportions and in order to be a good designer you must understand and use geometry." Ok, great, but how? In other words, this book is like half of a thesis- lacking the parts that tell me how to go forward.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Lacking Sept. 17 2002
This is a good book for someone who has never delved into the subject. I find that it follows the same track as others in making the golden proportioning system fit about anything they want it to. Probably the most disappointing thing is the book's assembly: there are numerous overlays in the book that are not aligned with the images they are overlaying. The deviations are from slight to almost 1/4" - very bothersome to view. This is more of a problem with mediocre quality control and concern by Princeton Architectural Press. It's good that the book is relatively inexpensive or I would have returned it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have bought for years Aug. 19 2002
I have been looking for a book Like this for so long. It is easy to follow and well written.
I would urge anyone with a desire to grasp the concepts of proportion in design to start here. It has certainly fueled my interest and I am on the hunt to extend my knowledge further
Thanks for a great book at a great price. A refreshing change
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