I good while back I did a series of posts on proportion, scale and balance. Mine started off like this:
Despite out best intentions the traditional buildings that are being constructed today do not always feel ‘right’. They fail in the small details- the proportion of a window, or a badly –detailed door surround or in a short-sighted choice of material.
For too long we have built for today with no thought about tomorrow and what would be timeless and sustainable. As my friend, Steve Mouzon, would say, “We have not only failed to speak a common language – the language of classical architecture and design – we have failed to learn the language at all.”
The same mistakes have been repeated so often that they are now thought of as correct. How many gables can one facade handle? Or “let’s just stick a dormer there.” (And let’s make it really short and fat)
Just as the ear recognizes the error when subjects and verbs disagree (we was going), the eye recognizes error when rules of architecture and design are not followed.
Even if we can’t explain what is wrong we know “something” doesn’t ring true.
In a recent post, Greg Tankersley, tackled the same subject. Being the poet that he is, it is said so gracefully. Here are my two favorite quotes from that article.
“I posit that what sets the graceful and beautiful apart from the awkward and homely does not have a price tag attached to it at all. Any thing of great loveliness possesses three magnificent qualities: composition, balance and proportion, none of which cost a dime. To the common eye, this essential triptych of good design goes beautifully unseen. You just instinctively know when something is pretty or looks perfect. These are the mystical tools of any good artist, sculptor and architect whose adept eyes and hands can take basic elements and alchemize them into something extraordinary. This creative orchestration – not monetary expenditure – is what actually separates the sheep from the goats.” Greg Tankersley
My other favorite quote concerns the placement of a tiny sliver of a window directly beneath a grand staircase window, ” whenever a grand gesture was made, an apology immediately followed.” How is that for both descriptive writing and for explaining the very heart of what makes great design great? He always says it so much better than I.
For the entire post go here.
As a client once said after a day of shopping, “Ugly cost the same as pretty.” That “pretty” much sums it up.