Wednesday, February 27, 2013 white space

Vitsoe Shelving designed by Dieter Rams

White space is one of the first design cues you learn as a graphic designer. The importance of leaving "breathing room" on the page for your eye to rest. This allows the important things to become visually significant and allow supportive content to fade to the back. But what is the importance of white space in life? Do we need white space in our creative area to allow for our brain to rest and the significant thoughts to rise to the front of our psyche? I am one for surrounding myself with inspiration images, mood boards, color swatches and pattern. My home is not over the top with color and texture but is by no means a white box. If we live in a white box, do we just create more white boxes? If we surround ourselves with color, is that what we will ultimately create? Does our environment dictate what we ultimately make??

I recently started reading the book, Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible by Sophie Lovell. It is part biography and part design theory by the amazing Dieter Rams. He emerged onto the design scene at a very important time, right after WWII when the old was being left and the new was about freedom— freedom from the dominance of things. It was important to create environments that allowed for freedom of expression, that were quiet and harmonious. He felt objects should not boast but almost fade into the background so as to provide space for people, which is what was important.

"Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live
is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design." 
Dieter Rams

He lives a life full of white space—a personally designed home of large open windows with views of nature, clean lines, low ceilings and minimal decorative elements. His work space is full of "breathing room," white floor, walls and furniture. Do I naturally do this when I clean off my desk prior to a large project kickoff? When I placed my desk in front of a window? When I bought the clean, white lacquered Parson desk from West Elm and use the streamlined Apple products? Am I tapping into Rams' ideas of letting items fade away to make room for thought?

In such a rich and diverse world of design, I think there is room for both kinds. The design aesthetic that helps us to rest, find harmony and become more contemplative and let the important things become centered, as well as the rich excitement of color and pattern that is energizing and passionate. But what you choose for your own personal space is just that, personal. That space is a reflection of what you find important, and that is ultimately what you will create. So yes, our environment will influence what we create, because both are one and the same.

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