As human beings, we understand our world not only with the five senses and the interconnection and interaction of perception (along with other physical factors such as temperature, humidity, weight, mass, depth, etc). While it is possible to trace these interactions in their purest and most basic forms back to the human senses, the complexity of understanding and the shaping of experience necessitates a level of intricacy which the designer is required to research, understand, and use for design that is sensitive and fulfilling.
The Un-Universal Man
Man is the measure of all things. The phrase is a cliche and its origins, in Plato’s fourth-century bce dialogue Theaetetus, Room designs 2017 have been all but buried beneath constant repetition.28 Its familiarity, however, should not obscure the fundamental truth of the statement: our perspective determines how we see the world. Our measure of the world has, not surprisingly, been anthropic -the way we record our surroundings is rooted in human terms.29 A good example of Plato’s statement is very pragmatic and the first unit of actual physical measurement was not a ruler but our own bodies.
Humans have related their bodies to the shape of the world in three distinct ways:
By creating systems of divine harmony that relate the perceived perfection of the human form to a perfect, unchanging cosmic order.
By measuring the world against the direct experience of the physical body; measurements like the inch, based on the length of the first joint in the thumb, were created in this way.
By developing rational and repeatable systems of measurement. The process began with the conversion of irregular, human-based units into standard units, and continued with the creation of classifications, like the metric system, that were ultimately detached from human experience. This rationalization of dimensions eventually led to standardized measurements for the human body, for use by designers.
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