When I finally got the gist of that, we were required to give up the physical tools and wrestle with clumsy emerging computer design programs. But this wasn't the big lesson part; that came when I truly understood that laying out a compelling page of stories and photos was function first, form second. And if that form included a bunch of clip-art snowflakes or needless drop shadows, those had to go. The scanning eye needs white space over decoration.
Good design requires a good editor, but too much editing can kill the soul of the visual field, whether that's a newspaper double-spread (I'm dusting off all the ol' industry relic terms here) or a building.
The residual of a near-dead layout skill is that I'm constantly second-guessing structures and spaces with a specific line of questions: Too much? Too little? How much is design and how much is decoration?
I see this image of the astonishing staircase at the Les Haras brasserie in Strasbourg, designed by Jouin Manku Studios, and I wonder, is all that strapping structural? If not, what would it look like with the superfluous strapping removed?
At first glance this Gulf Island community building is something out of a Bavarian folktale, more in line with the Volkisch movement that celebrates the hand of the craftsperson.
Yet that decorative shingling is sound design in the rainforest vicinity, and uses locally-sourced renewable materials. The two planks flanking the window are structural components, too. Above all, the design of the shingling hold the function of reflecting the mountainous region rising out of the sea, and the kind of creative activity that will take place at this new arts centre, while the planks are twin silhouettes of the tree trunk they came from.
The 19th Century English artist/designer/social activist William Morris would have loved it. He would have appreciated this collaborative work that integrates architecture with art and in so doing eliminates any boundary between form and function.
It's a happy, slightly chaotic dwelling-object, quite the opposite of the Bauhaus "minimal dwelling" ideal, but would it benefit from an editing?
No freakin' way.