How can we use the principles of design in our daily lives and creative endeavors? Can being aware of these principles help us make judgments and decisions about our surroundings?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the principles of modern design and architecture is that "form follows function." This saying means that things should be designed in a way that answers to the need at hand rather than just being decorative. An object's function should determine its design. This principle can be used in our daily lives because we can design our lives to fulfill the needed tasks and eschew useless decoration. In other words, beauty comes from fulfilling needs.

We can use these principles to make judgments about our surroundings because we can choose objects in our lives that fulfill our needs. For example, rather than cluttering our environment with useless or uncomfortable chairs, we can choose a chair that is sculpted to our body and that helps us complete tasks in an efficient and ergonomic manner. Another example is living in ways that are adapted to our environment. For example, growing a lawn in the dry parts of the American West may not be as environmentally friendly as growing native grasses that don't require a great deal of water. In this way, the idea of "form follows function" can also segue into environmental design. 

Symmetry and balance are also essential to architecture and designing industrial objects and furniture. In design, symmetry refers to arranging objects in the same manner on both sides of an axis to create a pleasing design. By applying the principle of symmetry and balance to our daily lives, we'll be more psychologically healthy by, for example, balancing work and play. Balance is as critical to daily life as it is to good design. 

nicovsaw | Student

The Principles of Design are easily used in day to day life and all creative endeavors. Once you know all the design principles you see them in nature, the city, your home, and anything you look at, really.

Lets say we want to plate a pretty meal for a special event, we would look at Balance, whether it's symmetrical or not, to make sure that the plate is not visually overcrowded. We would use Emphasis to showcase the star of the dish or the most important flavors. We would use Proportion to make sure all ingredients are present and that the nutritional value is healthy. Lastly, we might use Unity to ensure that each part of the meal tastes good together. 

Another example would be in writing and language skills. Just like a well designed room or a beautiful painting, we want to make sure that when we write it has the same elements or Principles of Design. As a writer you need to be careful not to use the same words of phrases over and over again, this would be showcased by the principle of Variety, which tells us in order to have flow and maintain interest we need to use different elements, in this case words and sentence strupicture. You can also use the principle of Proportion in your writing, making sure that the right amount of text is dedicated to the important parts versus the nonessential parts. 

One last example of the Principles of Design in our daily life would be our own personal styles. We think about each of the principles whether we realize it or not when we're getting dressed. We make sure to not overdo it with the accessories, which is paying attention to Pattern. When we do accessorize we match it with an element of our clothing, which is Repetition. We also make use of the principle of Movement, by dressing to make our best features or favorite accessories the focal points of our ensemble.

When we are aware of how all the principles of design affect us in our daily lives, we most certainly start to make judgements about our surroundings. We notice if something is missing or out of place in all the spaces we move through. We become active beings in our environment, whether it's at home, shopping, driving, at work, or in nature. We notice small the details and effort that someone has taken into arranging an area, or we notice a way to improve a layout. We notice when something has good design and when something is lacking. Everything around us is made by someone and therefore adheres to the principles of design. Once you understand these principles it becomes a language that you can apply to anything whether it's physical or an idea.