Lux and Design
Taking the broadest view possible on design, let’s say it encompasses the invention, development, production, and arrangement of all things, be they systems, structures, or material objects. The arrangement of things appears here as an oddity, referring to how we surround ourselves with them. In other words, we are not just concerned here with those who are making things, but also those who are purchasing them and using them in relationship to other things. All of us are, in this sense, designing our personal surroundings. Our home and the objects we own are an expression of who we are.
Design by LVX is set upon three pillars. These serve as a guide to what and how we make or buy all that surrounds us. Once we have set forth these three pillars, we will develop three further principles of LUX design, concerned more specifically with the form and function of things being designed.
1. Human creativity is the purpose.
All structures and objects should maximize the expression of human creativity and ingenuity because that is the raison d’être for all that we manifest. Things are made for a specific purpose, but their in fine purpose is the very act of creation itself.
From this perspective, whatever is produced by industrial means dissipates the intensity of human creativity and ingenuity. Although there is some creativity and ingenuity involved in the design and manufacturing of mass-produced objects, these are proportionally minute in comparison to the mechanical and repetitive aspects, themselves devoid of any creativity and ingenuity. How many factory-line workers are required to perform soul-sapping work to mass-produce what a few have designed? We have been deluded by the promise of mass-production that makes objects economically accessible to the masses. Our industrial system, with capitalism as its most effective partner, has indeed democratised access to more things. We could call it a massive success, except that the pursuit of happiness by means of producing and possessing things is the delusion, as is the belief that comfort and consumption determine the social good.
With the exception of those essential goods requiring robotic precision and speed, we can choose to use things made by other people rather than by assembly lines.
2. The heart adds the greatest value.
The vibrations of emotion penetrate matter; therefore everything must be created from the heart. The heart is the nervous center of emotional intelligence, a complex counterpart to the brain. Creation, the activity of giving form to void, is a source of positive emotions. Creation with a specific intent, for example to express love for another, carries an even greater emotional charge. Every object with which we surround ourselves carries some form of emotional charge. If you make something yourself, there is a great positive charge associated with the joy of creation. If you receive an earnest gift made by another, it is charged with gratitude. When you purchase some object directly from another person who made it, there remains a positive charge (as long as the seller perceives the price as fair). Even if you purchase it indirectly, there also remains a positive charge. All charge is neutralized, on the other hand, by impersonal, mechanical production. Greed and exploitation result in negatively charged products.
We can choose to nurture relationships even through our economic transactions. We can make more things ourselves if we enjoy making them. You may think you need to wait for scientific validation before buying into this, but by then it will be too late. The world enchanted is here upon you, whether you sense it or not.
3. Nature is the definitive model of perfection
Nature reveals superb elegance in its every choice of form to provide each function. Your body is the supreme example. Objects, structures, and systems that tap into the underlying logic of natural evolution are superior to all others. We do not require scientific proof to know that a banana’s natural “packaging” is superior to plastic-wrapped candy, or that wood is superior in many ways to synthetic plastics. Although some functions (plasticity, most notable) are more effectively delivered by synthesized polymers, this conclusion systematically ignores how petroleum extraction, refinery, and transformation degrades our environment. In our outmoded industrial system, no more petrol equals no more plastic. As can be observed in nature, the ideal system is one which eliminates harmful effects such that all interdependent systems remain in balance. Nature does also produce materials with superb plasticity, and even in this domain remains a model of perfection. Until we are able to replicate it, we are better off minimizing our use of petroleum-based products, no matter how nicely they are colored and how cheap they are to produce. They are only cheap because the cost of environmental destruction has been ignored. Who’s paying that bill?
We have three courses of effective action as consumers. We can buy less. We can buy things that by design imitate nature as closely as possible. We can buy things that maximize use of natural materials.
When we concern ourselves more specifically with the form and function of things being designed, there are three principles of LUX:
1. Let light lead the way.
All physical structures receive, transmute, and reflect light in some way or another. We live on light, directly or indirectly when we feed on other light-fed organisms. We thrive on light and invariably seek it. In a metaphorical sense, we grow towards it like plants. From this, it follows that every space we design, and every object we put in that space, should have a role to play in relation to light.
2. Light leads to lightness
Given its utmost importance, is it not fascinating that light is weightless? "Lightness" is thus a play on words in itself. Lightness is superior to weight, all other things being equal. A tree is heavier than a poppy, but the tree's weight is optimal with regard to its function. If you could have a washing machine that weighed less than half of what your current machine weighs, the lighter model would be superior as long as it washed your clothes just as well. Not much has changed with washing machines since we put a man on the moon and decoded DNA, so we have a very hard time imagining a radically different solution from what we already know.
Soviet inventor Genrich Altshuller formulated laws of technical system evolution in order to make the invention process scientific rather than intuitive. Using such an approach, we will surely find a superior solution someday for washing clothes, and that solution will no doubt encompass a radical change in our clothing. We must always avoid the tendency to isolate and optimize a single function within its system.
Meanwhile, we see this evolution of technical systems all around us. For example, where we used to install cumbersome heating systems with pipes and radiators, we now have technology to generate heat from within our windows. It is more energy-efficient, more comfortable, lighter, and virtually invisible.
3. Lightness leads to less
Silence is superior to the superfluous. Keep only what is essential. Minimalism focuses on stripping away everything that is superfluous in order to live more fully; however, it is in itself an abstract 10-letter concept-word. We can do more with less. The art de vivre called LUX (see LUX by LEO) recognizes that beauty is not superfluous but of the essence. Form and function are two facets of the same. LUX, designated as the ultimate luxury, is defined by artful simplicity, where having less allows us to be more.
Simplicity can be understood as an ongoing process gradually removing clutter from your inner and outer life. As your mind clears, space opens up within you and allows you to see things with greater clarity.
Examine every single object and determine its value for you. Does it serve a necessary function? Do you cherish it? If neither, give it away or recycle it. If you cherish it but it serves no necessary function, make it a gift of love to someone else. If you cherish it too much to separate with it, then make its place a prominent one, and cherish it indeed, every day.
We can take the home as a useful example to illustrate design principles because it concerns us all. This is a design manifesto directed at the common man, not the engineer concerned with rocket design. It would be difficult to find a home that systematically applies the LUX design principles, and it is not those who live in conventional luxury who come the closest. In a home that exemplifies LUX, everything would be hand-crafted, except perhaps the electronics and appliances if these are still deemed desirable. Only noble, that is to say natural, materials would be employed. Construction and craftsmanship would be carried out by people who enjoy what they do and therefore do it well. Everything within the home would have a function, and its design would be determined according to that function.