The differences in values and intentions are directly linked to the pluralism in design outcomes that exist within architecture and design. It is also a big contributing factor as to how an architect or designer operates in his/her relation to clients.
Different design values tend to have a considerable history and can be found in numerous design movements. The influence that each design value has had on design movements and individual designers has varied throughout history.
Aesthetic design values
The expansion of architectural and industrial design ideas and vocabularies which took place during the last century has created a diverse aesthetic reality within these two domains. This pluralistic and diverse aesthetic reality has typically been created within different architectural and industrial design movements such as: Modernism, Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, Post-structuralism, Neoclassicism, New Expressionism, Supermodernism etc. All of these aesthetic realities represent a number of divergent aesthetic values, in addition to differences in general values and theories found within these movements. Some of the stylistic distinctions found in these diverse aesthetic realities reflects profound differences in design values and thinking, but this is not the case for all stylistic distinctions, as some stylistic distinctions builds on similar thinking and values.
These aesthetic values and their diverse aesthetic expressions are to some degree a reflection of the development that has taken place in the art community. In addition, more general changes have taken place in Western societies, due to technological development, new economic realities, political changes etc. However, these diverse aesthetic expressions are also a reflection of individual architects and industrial designers’ personal expression, based on designers’ tendency to experiment with form, materials, and ornament to create new aesthetic styles and aesthetic vocabulary. Changes in aesthetic styles and expressions have been, and still are, both synchronic and diachronic, as different aesthetic styles are produced and promoted simultaneously.
A number of values which cannot be classified as aesthetic design values have influenced the development of the aesthetic reality, as well as contributed to the pluralistic aesthetic reality which characterises contemporary architecture and industrial design.
Aesthetic Design Values, contains seven values.
Artistic aspects and self-expression
It is characterised by a belief that individual self-expression—or one’s inner spiritual self and creative imagination, inner resources and intuition—should be utilised and/or be the base used when designing. These sentiments are closely linked to a number of artistic values found in movements like Expressionism and the Avant-garde art. Thus, this design value is closely related to abstract forms and expression, personal creative liberty, elitism and being ahead of the rest of society.
The spirit of the time design value
This design value is based on the conception that every age has a certain spirit or set of shared attitudes that should be utilised when designing. The Spirit of the Times denotes the intellectual and cultural climate of a particular era, which can be linked to an experience of a certain worldview, sense of taste, collective consciousness and unconsciousness. Thus “form expression” which can be found, to some extent in the “air” of a given time and each generation, should generate an aesthetic style that expresses the uniqueness related to that time.
The structural, functional and material honesty design value
Structural Honesty is linked to the notion that a structure shall display its “true” purpose and not be decorative etc. Functional honesty is linked to the idea that a building or product form shall be shaped on the basis of its intended function, often known as “form follows function”. Material honesty implies that materials should be used and selected on the bases of their properties, and that the characteristics of a material should influence the form it is used for. Thus, a material must not be used as a substitute for another material as this subverts the materials “true” properties and it is “cheating” the spectator.
The simplicity and minimalism design value
This design value is based on the idea that simple forms, i.e. aesthetics without considerable ornaments, simple geometry, smooth surfaces etc., represents forms which are both truer to “real” art and represents “folk” wisdom. This design value implies that the more cultivated a person becomes, the more decoration disappears. In addition, it is linked to the notion that simple forms will free people from the everyday clutter, thus contribute to tranquillity and restfulness.
Nature and organic design value
This design value is based on the idea that nature (i.e. all sorts of living organisms, numerical laws etc.) can provide inspiration, functional clues and aesthetic forms that architects and industrial designers should use as a basis for designs. Designs based on this value tend to be characterized by free-flowing curves, asymmetrical lines and expressive forms. This design value can be summed up in “form follows flow” or “of the hill” as opposed to “on the hill”.
The classic, traditional and vernacular aesthetics design value
This value is based on a belief that a building and product should be designed from timeless principles that transcend particular designers, cultures and climates. Implicit in this design value is the notion that if these forms are used, the public will appreciate a structure’s timeless beauty and understand immediately how to use a given building or product. This design value is also linked to regional differences i.e. varying climate etc. and folklore cultures, which creates distinctive aesthetical expressions.
The regionalism design value
This design value is based on the belief that building—and to some degree products—should be designed in accordance with the particular characteristics of a specific place. In addition, it is linked to the aim of achieving visual harmony between a building and its surroundings, as well as achieving continuity in a given area. In other words, it strives to create a connection between past and present forms of building. Finally, this value is also often related to preserving and creating regional and national identity.
Social design values
Many architects and industrial designers have a strong motivation to serve the public good and the needs of the user population. Moreover, social awareness and social values within architecture and design reflect, to some degree, the emphasis these values are given in society at large.
It should be noted that social values can have an aesthetical impact, but these aspects will not be explored as the main aesthetical impact found in design has been covered in the previous sections. Social design values are at times in conflict with other design values. This type of conflict can manifest itself between different design movements, but it can also be the cause of conflicts within a given design movement. It can be argued that conflicts between social values and other design values often represent the continuing debate between Rationalism and Romanticism commonly found within architecture and industrial design.