Principles of Design #57 – Symmetry

May 04 2014 Published by Neil Gains under design

Symmetry has always been associated with beauty (although for a twist on this read about Wabi-Sabi aesthetics here). It is found in most natural forms, and is generally favoured in natural selection and specifically in sexual selection (symmetric faces are perceived as more attractive than asymmetric faces). The human body shows the principle of symmetry well, with two eyes, two ears, two arms and two legs, but other animals and plants show this just as well. In nature, symmetry is largely a function of the force of gravity and a kind of ‘regression to the mean’ (averaging of form).

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Principles of Design #53 – Hierarchy of Needs

Dec 06 2013 Published by Neil Gains under design

Hierarchy of needs is the premise that any design needs to meet users basic needs before it can attempt to satisfy higher level needs – that is, it must function before it can help users to be creative. Good designs follow the principle and get the basics right first, whereas poor designs attempt to meet needs from higher levels before delivering on basic functionality and reliability. This hierarchy is based on the work of Abraham Maslow in the 1950s. Read more »

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Colourful Language

Jun 06 2012 Published by Neil Gains under language

Language and thinking

I have always been fascinated by colour (and spent much of my time as a PhD student using colour to prove the validity of some of the methods I was using). The language of colour is particularly fascinating. Like smell, our human ability to detect different colours is vastly in excess of our ability to describe what we can perceive. According to Berlin and Kay, there are no more than eleven terms which are commonly used to describe the abstract properties (hues) of colours, as Inspector Insight wrote in a previous article. Read more »

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Monkey motives

Jul 08 2010 Published by admin under evolution

“I’d rather be a climbing ape than a falling angel.”  - Terry Pratchett

On my way home on the bus yesterday I spotted ‘a small fella’ driving a big black Hummer. Why did he feel the need to buy this I wondered? Surely the pleasure of acquiring and driving it can only be short lived at best.  What makes someone spend almost US$150,000 on an unreliable, gas guzzling, hard to drive sport-utility vehicle?

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