With light, we sense the outline, edges, and depth of a thing, space. Time after time, we remembered every detail of what we see. The outline of a shadow on the curved surface, the shadow of a highlight line between two surfaces. 

The shadows teach us what is a curve and what is a flat surface, what is a ball and what is a circle. The light tells us what a thing is and we know the world from light.  

As time passing by, the light and shadow start to talk about different stories of the same thing. We start to confuse and lost which description is the "right" one. We believe what is in our mind is the "right" and started to against the description various with our cognitions.

Finally, we figure out that all the different moments and descriptions show the same thing,  the "typical" description is just a moment of the thing. Now, what is it which behind all the moment we experienced? 

The descriptions change but the thing constant.



The form is the physical performance of the willings. The form is the expression of the intention of a thing, on many occasions, the form is the expression of functions. Such as a hook has a specific form: a closed shape with an opening and this shape can offer the function. The shape of a hook can be a circle, oval, square, triangle. We judge the thing is a hook not according to the shape but the form. 

For Kahn, "form' has no shape or dimension. It merely has nature; a characteristic. It is an answer to the question, what? Design, on the other hand, is the making of things and has measurable qualities. It is an answer to the question, how? Design is a circumstantial act- how much money it is available, the site, the client and the extent of knowledge.

Kahn wrote: "If I were to take a spoon to represent Form, I would say the spoon is a container and an arm, both of which are inseparable to spoon. If I were to design a spoon, I would make it out of silver or wood, shallow or deep. That's where design comes in: it's measuring it, it's putting it into being. But what most characterizes spoon from some other instruments is form.(what it is) ---from Louis Kahn

The objects are constructed in 3 steps. 

1.Intention, 2.form, 3.expression

1. The intention is what is the thing. it is the concept of the objects. the concepts may not occupy the space or time.

2. The form is how does the concept work to us. The form occupies space and time.

3. The expression is how do we realize the form and interact with the function. 

The form is an expression of the intention of functions,   the form offers realistic possibilities bring the function concept to physical solution.

Expression including shapes, colors, materials, dimensions to offer different experiences.

Nature and design 'make sense'.

Make sense is causation.

Everything in the word has causation. Background normally regards as the reason, and the performance at the moment normally regard as the result. 

In scriptwriting, writers shape the personality of the character with the experiences in the past. The experiences and history, create a solid character.

In nature, all the creatures have the reason to be as what it is. Giraffe has exaggerated long neck to eat the leaves on the tree.  Creatures live on the land have hood and foot instead of fins. The design process like the evolution in Nature, decisions need to make sense. 


In nature, the decision is made based on existing-willing or survival. The pressure of survival makes the creature living with cost-effective principles. 

"The structure is the way to achieve the most strength from the least material, through the most appropriate arrangement of elements within the best from the intended use, and constructed from the material most suited to the kind of stress placed upon it. The structure is focused on one direction, getting the very most from the very least. The structure is the economy. "--from origins of form. 

Needs-solution and mutation

Need-solution mode maintains the ecology balance. Predator and
Herbivore wishes to break the balance, while the survive willing keeps species changing to adapt to their competitors. Species evolution with the surroundings and competitors, this process like the need-solution mode in design. While what is making the species standing out of the surroundings is a mutation. Of course, as we know, the natural mutation is unpredictable and need time and surroundings to filter the suitable one. But the mutation offers opportunities. The first fish who started to have feet have opportunities to avoid predators and the chance to explore the new lands. 

In design, the mutations might come from cross-field, new technologies, and desires. The new technique gives desire opportunities. 

What is the difference between need and desire?

The measure of its greatness as a place to live must come from the character of its institutions, sanctioned by their sensitivity to desire. For new agreement, not by need, because need comes from what already is. Desire is the thing not made, the roots of the will to live. It is the mind of the architect what is best suited to bring all the forces that make a city into a symphonic character. ---Louis Kahn.

Here desire is what, and need is how. 

"Evolution of any design following pattern:

1.founctional issues

2.issues of structure and material

3.communication of meaning through form" 

From "Furniture modern postmodern design technology"


What are the details?

About the detail, we have many quotes for it.

"Devil is in details." 

“The details are not the details; they make the product,” wrote Charles and Ray Eames for the film script, ECS,

about one of their new furniture systems.

All the quotes describe that detail is indivisible and important, but what is the detail?

Personally, I think, in design, details are the description of relationships and changes. The relationships and changes are in spaces, time or both. 

It is about objects to objects and objects to users. 

When elements meet, such as surface, lines or bodies, there must be a description of what is the relationship of the meet and what is the change. The details are the description of what is the relationships and what is the change. For example, when two pieces of fabric sew together, the detail which can be sensed and considered would be:

for materials:

1.how thick, what color, and which material, is the sewing line? etc...

2. should the edge of the fabric be bent? what is the distance between the edge and sewing line?  which method of the sewing should be used? how to separate two fabrics? etc...

for users:

Should the user feel and see the line? how to separate the parts to make it look better? etc...

The elements including the same or different, elements, objects, surfaces, lines, bodies, and users.  

For,  object and users, the relationship is about interactive, sensations, feelings, functions from users perspective or user-centered. 

For between objects, the relationship is about construction, but when the user is involved in, object to users should be considered. 

"Buildings are artificial constructions. They consist of single parts which must be joined together. To a large degree, the quality of the finished object is determined by the quality of the joints... Details express what the basic idea of the design requires a relevant point in the object: belonging or separation, tension or lightness, friction, solidity fragility.... our attention is caught, perhaps for the first time, by a detail such as two nails in the floor that hold the steel plates by the worn-out doorstep. emotions well up. something moves us."--"The New Eco- Architecture: Alternatives from the Modern Movement"

Relationships from Kant:

Form of Judgment


(a) Categorical (S is P)

(b)Hypothetical(If A, then C)

(C)Disjunctive(Either A or B)

Corresponding category




3 roles of design

To support the storytelling

This occasion, like a narrative film, the sound, visual, photography serves the storytelling.

Designs support behavior or activities. Such as medical products

Supprising in the story

There is a role for a story ending: reasonable and surprising,

like O.Henry's stories, surprising and reasonable end.  

Such as daily products. Life needs reasonable and surprises.

Challenge the story

In this occasion, the design aim to challenge the existing concept.

What is a beauty? 

    Beauty as the unity of concept and real existence of the concept.

"We called the beautiful the Idea of the beautiful. This means that the beautiful itself must be grasped as Idea, in particular as Idea in a determinate form, i.e. as the idea. Now the idea as such is nothing but the concept, the real existence of the concept, and the unity of the two. For the concept as such is not yet the idea, although  ‘concept’ and ‘idea’ are often used without being distinguished. But it is only when it is present in its real existence and placed in unity therewith that the concept is the idea. " ---From Hegel (Aesthetics P106)

Design is “a full expression of what a thing is or does”---------George nelson 

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