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Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Notwithstanding the ironies of lucid and conFUSED space that we inhabit today, creative potentials for a sustainable convergence and complimentary gathering/dance of opposite principles (get high and get real) are all around us to be taped into. They are embedded in the following key design principles. These principles have been intrinsic to Eastern cosmology and many forms of traditional artistic manifestations found all over Asia.

2.4   Key design principles 

The principles can also be related to information and cybernetic paradigm, as well as the way our brains work (quantum field). The principles allows us to be in synch with our true nature (fitrah), to be in tuned with the frequency of the whole (universe).
These principles can be applied in many different forms of creative endeavours across various disciplines. The principles can be used as a basis of reconciling the duality of mind (making peace) and contribute towards designing a sustainable creative ecosystem. The principles may also reconcile the dichotomy of ‘getting high’ and ‘getting real’ into a complimentary whole instead of an antagonistic pairing.

2.4.1 Adaptation and Modularity
Modularity refers to the use of small units or motifs that can be combined to form bigger units of motifs.  Infinite numbers of combinations can be created and perceived.  Together they create infinite and multidimensional interlocking patterns.  Modularity increases adaptability.  What this means is that anything designed by the use of modular principle can be very adaptive to changing physical situation without changing the core identity.  
This formal principle is very schematic, which means that it uses mathematical calculation as the basis of visualization.  In a mathematical term, such multiplicity is called fractal. This schematic method is also comparable to a computer programming language. Modular principle is used for examples in Islamic arabesque pattern, Buddhist mandala, Indian Kolam, Malay carving, and many other forms of traditional arts.  Adaptation and modularity balance the idea of a fixed and rigidly prescribed design.  They balance obsession towards permanency.  They induce changes.


2.4.2 Flexibility and Audience-centered/Inclusive/Participative/Immersive
Flexibility refers to the result of modularity and adaptation. It avoids a particular design from becoming fixed, permanent and static.  It also allows the audience or user to create his or her own pattern of experience, physically and intellectually or emotionally.  
Flexibility means that every individual can experience a design according to his or her own entry point or point of view.  Each audience or user may share similar experience as well as encounter different experience. 
In many forms of South East Asian traditional arts, this principle refers to the ability of a design to be adapted and changed according to the changing needs - space, time, materials, geographical condition, socio-cultural demands and so on.  The changes however, do not erase the essential character of the whole design. 
Flexibility creates a design that is sustainable, open-ended, participatory, inviting, engaging and nature and human-friendly. It balances personal needs and social demands.  One good example is the design of a traditional Malay house. This principle is also used in computer programming and authoring.  One main purpose of computer programming and authoring is to design a system that will allow the user to create his or her own pattern of interaction and experience. A good system shares similar flexibility principle and the desired results -  open-ended, participatory, inviting, engaging and human-friendly, balancing both personal needs and social demands. 

2.4.3 Non-linear and Cyclical, Simultaneous and Multiple View Points
These principles refer to a method of design that can be found in many forms of South East Asian traditional arts.  Non-linear and cyclical design has no single focal point or centre. Instead, it has many focal points.  The choice of a focal point can be decided by the audience or user. 
Cyclical design is non-linear because it doesn’t require a singular sequence or flow or direction.  Instead, the sequence, flow or direction is determined by the audience or user. 
 To understand this, one may use a comparison between visual system used in an Arabesque design with the singular point of a linear perspective system.  In a perspective system, singular point is used in which all the lines converge. The audience has no choice but to follow the direction of perception towards a single focal point.  On the other hand,  in an Arabesque design, multiple points are used and it is up to the audience to chose which point as a focus. 
Non-linear and cyclical principle also rejects the idea of linear progression.  For example, a typical linear narrative contains single story development from a catalyst towards resolution. The audience or user doesn’t have a choice but to follow the singular story flow.  On the other hand, a non-linear system offers multiple stories within stories and it is up to the audience or user to decide which story to follow and how they want to enter the story. 
Examples of non-linear or cyclical principle can be found in many forms of South East Asia traditional literatures, performing arts, music, architecture and the visual arts.  It can also be found in interactive computer products such as games, entertainment and educational CD-ROM.

2.4.4 Interactive and Dynamic, Inter-dependence/Inter-connected and Highly Networked

By engaging the audience or user into a design, it becomes interactive and dynamic.  The principles explained before lead to an interactive and dynamic design.  Interactivity relies on the idea of inter-dependency and network.  Interactivity and dynamism celebrate moments and changes, instead of relying solely on fixed permanency. They induce choice. These features can be observed in both traditional South East Asia arts as well as new media. In the traditional arts, they can be observed for example in the intricate arabesque patterns.  In new media, it can be observed in the programming of an intricate network system.

2.4.5 Convergence and Trans-disciplinary
Traditional forms of performing art in South East Asia are trans-disciplinary in essence.  It means that a performance is taken as a whole, not perceived in fragments of different types of arts.

2.4.6. Balance 

Balance is the most important principle.  It is the key to all the principles mentioned before.  It also reflects the idea of reaching unity through multiplicity, negotiating between the opposite forces of the binary pair.  It relates to the notion of following a middle path.

2.5 Alternate shifts

The following is a list of alternate shifts that may be used as a guide in propelling rejuvenation and transformative initiatives, charting new territories, advocating sustainability and shifting from defunct paradigm. The shifts may also act as our preludes for ‘synchronizing with the cosmic dance of opposites’. They may hopefully lead us to a door of a ‘global design awakening’.

From Massification to Demassification
From Designer as a Controller to Designer as a Facilitator
From Review of End Product to Review of Process
From Summative to Formative
From Linear to Non-linear
From Permanence & Static to Impermanence and Change (design for change)
From Isolated Specialist to Multi-skilled generalist
From Hierarchy to Network of Relation
From Sequence to Simultaneity
From Hand Skill to Brain/Cognitive  Skill
From Organization Man to Migrant Professional
From Goods to Services
From Global Competition  to Global Collaboration
From Dominance to Synergy
From Control to Trust
From Formal to Contextual
From Independence to Interdependence
From Fixed and Standardized to Modular and Flexible
From Consumer to Prosumer
From Form to Information/Context
From Singular discipline to Trans-disciplines
From Centralized to Multiple Centers/Decentralized
From Pre-determined to Choices
From Object to Time

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