This is the first thought in a series of inquiries that we have begun at Tamaala. Why this discussion? This is one of the “truths” that we seek in our journey from art to products at Tamaala. We feel it is extremely relevant in an age where standardisation and mass production seems to have taken over the finer aspects of aesthetic product design.
When it comes to the relationship between art and design, it can be hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins. Often the terms are used interchangeably, as certain design work is art. But there are distinctions as well. Visual art would not necessarily be considered a form of design. Quoting from an article by renowned designer Marc Hohmann “I’ve always urged designers to spend more time looking at modern art for inspiration; however, I still see plenty of “best of” books on logos, typography, graphic systems, patterns and information graphics in the office, hardly any of which mention the important visual artists that are shaping our cultural landscape”.
Moving on… does Art ask the questions, and does design provide the solutions? Are they philosophical opposites? Is Art for art’s sake & design all about reason and functionality? How does great art or great design make an impression on us? One might find people swarming to click a prized MF Hussain, and yet ignore the most innovative camera app which is enabling them to capture and modify the picture and share it with their friends.
Inherently, art is human expression at its purest form. It can be realistic or abstract or even surreal, it can be something that baffles human imagination itself or something that captures a scene or episode for eternity. Art is characterized by its focus on the expressive – or these days, the conceptual elements – of the work. The emphasis is on the emotional, intellectual or spiritual qualities of the work. Structural components are in service to that end. One would suggest that typically, fine art is unconstrained, though not always – artists sometimes create boundaries, or take up commissions. Art is generally without a purpose, though not always – consider public murals, like the ones in Bangalore or Mumbai which run into kilometres of public walls. And art is at its best when it does communicate, as it has done for many centuries, rather than being merely expressive. The focus on self-expression, today deemed so important, has only come into being in the last couple of centuries.
Design on the other hand aims towards solving problems. Design is the organization of the components of visual art: colour, line, mass, etc. We at Tamaala do not believe that design needs to have constraints, or a target, or a purpose. It may or may not communicate. Many creations offered up as art – even fine art – are primarily design, take the works of the great S.H.Raza for instance. One gets this feeling when one views great works of sculpture of the late Shri.Ramkinkar Baij (pioneer of modern Indian sculpture) for instance. Some buildings with great architecture – like the Infosys multiplex in Mysore probably inspired by the amazing Matrimandir dome at the Aurubindo ashram, Pondicherry
This does not necessarily ride along the lines laid out by the legendary Don Norman, for whom design had to be user-centred and functionality took primary importance over aesthetics. What we envisage at Tamaala is that great art can be delivered through everyday products through innovative design, making for the product being user-friendly as well as aesthetic.
What do you think?
CREDITS & REFERENCES:
IMAGES – John O’Nolan , Webdesigner Depot
WIKIPEDIA – Don Norman