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on November 23, 2015
The book arrived open and damaged by water.
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on October 14, 2014
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on November 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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on September 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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on August 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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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.
2 people found this helpful
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on November 16, 2001
Have you ever entered a conversation or meeting half way through and try to figure out what everyone is talking about?
This ia exactly what reading this book is like.
I gave it one star because it was only 12 bucks.
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on November 8, 2001
At the concept level this is a great book, very well thought out and a nice layout. It is well worth the price. Very nice!!
A great book!!!
So why did I give it only a 2.
Because the beauty and logic of the book are only demonstrated in very simplistic designs which already would have geometric thinking built, building, furniture, commercial posters, fish, shells, etc. Symetrical snowflakes.
These objects would be driven to good design because of utilitarian functioning which is required by their physical nature. One example is A coffee maker, A car, A building . Kim is on to something great with this book,but I think she should have tackled more creative and complex objects and compositions where utilitarian value is secondary. She walks down the usual Leonardo and Greek path but the analysis is only of primarily singular objects. She does a great job but most of the objects are isolated objects or poster graphics which are already contrived on a pure geometric basis.
The great value of this book would be in the context of the evolution of design, proportion, and compostion with some of an Art aesthetic bent.
Analysis of complete compostions would be of value, some Durer engravings, some Raphael, some Petro da Cortona, some Poussin, some Raphael, Baroque, Neoclassical, Rococo, Cubist, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, etc. The books concept is great but the interaction of objects in paintings, or multi-group sculptures within the spirit of the books intent would have been a nice addition. The analysis objects are mostly trivial cases. The analysis methods are wonderful but I mean .........a chair by itself!!!
Great design problems are worked out by the interaction of objects, not just singular static objects. There is a wealth of more dynamic and interesting composition that was totally ignored. The Wagon Bar poster is the only thing that comes close to the type of complexity found in Art. The Folies poster was a good place to start, but the book dies with just these two examples,the Volkswagen and kettle are just too basic and functional within the context of current design which over simplifies most designs for the economy of mass production.
Take on a 1930's or 40 Packard, Duesenberg, or Silver cloud, not a 2000 Volkswagen where it and every other current product sit in the wings waiting for Steve Jobs and Apple to give them there next two circled transparent (in 15 colors) wonder flash of consumer mass production Neo-Borg Americana dribble,hoping each ounce of plastic or metal saved will mean less time to reprogram the robots, and make it easier to tell the consumer they should be thankful they can assemble it themselves at home.
(Got to love the proportions of that green packaging popcorn)
The book is a good intro book and brings together a lot of thinking from a number of other books in a quick read format, I would say "buy it" you will get your bang for the buck.
I would have rather paid 4 times as much and have it go much deeper into real Art proportion and compostion analyis.
The thinking and format of the book was so great, it seems a shame to waste it on objects and not apply it to some art examples. I mean compositional multi object art designs.
The book should contain at least some history related paintings,
Veronese, Tiepolo, some Titian, some contrast between Ren, Mannerism, Greek, Egyptian,(wall paintings not a pyramid) etc.. These examples within the context of multi-object compostions are more educational because they represent imagination use of proportion and compostion not functional requirements.
A great effort, Kim explains a violin, a trumpet, a drum, a flute, a trombone, but we never get around to a "symphony" if I can use a musical example to calrify what I mean.
Most of the examples are one trick ponies.
I hope a more sophisticated, more expensive, second edition comes out and the publishers let her go more in depth on a broader range of designs and Art history, she is on the right track, and the book would be valuable, it is a superb format, but the whole book I would have called Chapter One. Maybe I am being unfair this may be aimed at the Comercial Consumer Industrial Design crowd, not the Art crowd.
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on October 2, 2001
I've been looking for this book for years now. I would wander the aisles of book stores looking for a concise treatise on the geometric elements of design. I open book after book in the design, architecture and art sections looking for a description of this "Sacred Geometry" passed down from master to student, used by Leonardo DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Greek sculptors, the Parthenon, and countless other masters and imitators, but which is sadly missing from many of the fine art and design curricula throughout the country.
Judging from the title, I thought this book would be wordy and academic. Or on the opposite end, written by ... a protractor, a compass and little else. I couldn't be more wrong. What I found is, after a section describing how certain geometric relationships exist in nature, and what their mathematical properties are, page after page of designs analyzed.
First the design is reproduced for you to see, unadorned. Then the author shows you the same picture, but with red grids, circles, diagonals, stars, etc. covering it to show you the precise geometric relationship, of say, the Clestory Window in the Cathedral at Notre Dame to the building as a whole. Or how the Eames Chair conforms to the geometry of the Golden Section. Breif text accompanies each picture.
The text "The typography of the poster forms a triangle which serves to anchor it to the format and enhance visual interest" is found next to a small reproduction of the poster with a red triangle drawn on it. Some pages even have translucent overlays so you can see the picture with a grid, or circles, or both - "an overlay comparison... reveals that the... proportions in both drawings... are almost identical."
This book gives you the tools to evaluate design. It strikes the perfect balance between showing and telling. I read the whole thing (and I mean read, not just skimmed) during two one-hour subway commutes (2 hours) and plan on referencing it time and again in the future.
99.99% of the books on design I see ignore the fundamental geometry in favor of the flashy graphics that are available to our computer inundated culture. If you feel classical design principals can help you become a better designer, artist, person, etc. buy this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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