Beauty is a vital component in all design projects. But how can we determine what is beautiful? The first question is whether or not beauty is something that exists empirically in the physical world.
Beauty is a combination of qualities that give pleasure to the senses. It is one of the three fundamental aesthetic principles – the other two being harmony and organization. Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy which explores how art can be used to bring pleasure to the senses.
Beauty is a concept that has been examined throughout history. For example, Plato defined it as a universal essence. Socrates believed that it was not merely a function of appearance. Moreover, he believed that beauty is associated with profitability.
Aristotle also studied beauty. In fact, he ascribed less danger to beauty than Plato. He examined it more dispassionately. Moreover, he ascribed less importance to the judgment of others. Unlike Plato, Aristotle ascribed more importance to beauty as an artistic craft.
Thomas Aquinas Christianized the aesthetics of Aristotle. Interestingly, Aquinas’ explanation of beauty satisfies many criteria for a unified theory of beauty. That is, he explains how form and function can be incorporated in the same work. Moreover, he explains the rules of aesthetics as byproducts of good design. And finally, he explains that beauty is a manifestation of Goodness, the transcendent source of Being.
Ultimately, the rational understanding of beauty involves a search for an essence that can be converted into models. This process is often referred to as ‘boiling the essence into formulas’.
Another approach to this is the notion of the’sense of taste’. As the name suggests, it is the sensation a person experiences while observing a work of art. However, this can be subjective. What is considered beautiful to one person may be deemed ugly by another.
Kant, on the other hand, attempted to sunder the notion of beauty, arguing that the only objective way to judge a piece of art is through the spectator’s own emotional response. While this argument can be useful, it is risky because it runs the risk of falling victim to relativism.
Rather than searching for an essence to boil into formulae, a good designer should rethink the concept of beauty. One way to do this is to understand it in terms of the relationship between Organization and Complexity. Therefore, something can be beautiful if it is well designed, has a good balance of complexity and order, and is in good proportion to its parts.
A second approach is the idea that art is created to express feelings. Thus, it is important to consider the truth of a work of art. Moreover, a work of art can be subjectively beautiful if it is crafted with integrity, even if it doesn’t look like it.
Finally, we need to consider how society views beauty. When it comes to contemporary popular culture, beauty is often associated with femininity, and when it comes to art, it is usually a matter of aesthetics.