Standing in front of a Piero della Francesca painting, I wonder how an image can elicit such an embodied, emotional response? Butterflies stir, eyes glisten, goosebumps. What powerful signals — of success — to activate affect in such a way. A designer’s dream.
Across Francesca’s work, we peak into parallel universes imagined from a faraway past. Otherworldly landscapes of Tuscan hills and twisting trees lift through pastel pigments crushed from the earth — figures float, offering themselves into biblical mythologies — fictions — conjured through a *rigorous imagination.
… and yet there is a hidden language at play. Colour and shape are grounded and constrained through a sensuous masculine geometry that brings the scene upon which is gazed together tightly, with a self assured mathematical logic that can not be challenged. (Francesca was known more as a mathematician during his lifetime than an artist.)
Through this ethereal engineering of imagination with mathematics — Francesca offers us glimpses into an eternal paradise — bodily reaction hinting to a universal truth — of balance — balance of idealism with pragmatism.
Francesca reminds us of a more radical approach to form x function in design; where beyond the slick, formulaic & safe — form can also be bold, lyrical, spontaneous, playful, flamboyant & poetic. He encourages us to embrace imagination seriously as an equal ally of the functional and logical.
In a world ruled by rationality, how might more disruptive form be integrated into our ways of designing & problem solving — beyond an ornamental afterthought? And what does form & beauty even mean as design enters into ‘invisible’ territories like business design, systems design, etc.?
Good design is not always about disappearing seamlessly into the background — as we face collective challenges globally — good design will also need to activate emotion to seduce us towards new behaviour and alternative realities.