In learning about how to see design in different places we learned about Rob Forbes ability to find design in unusual places. He talked about how Havana, Cuba was an inspiration as anuntouched playground for his imagination, undefiled by lecherous advertisements. This unit had me rethinking where my mental playgrounds were, and how whether or not I was using my correctly in my work.
I concluded I wasn’t. If the ocean and the sea means so much to me why do I not see it reflected in my work more? I do have illustrations of the ocean and oceanic inspired creatures, but that isn’t the argument that Forbes is making. Does my line work reflect the ocean? Am I looking to the ocean to inform me as a design source or am I using it merely as a bookmark of memories?
The more I thought about it design wise there is so much to learn from the ocean. I started reflecting on the cultures that were directly influenced by their relationship with the ocean. What does their architecture look like, what is their cuisine, how does their art reflect their design sensibilities? I began thinking fishing towns of the northeast or the surf culture of Florida that I grew up with. The islands of the Pacific with their own unique design sensibilities are so radically distinct in contrast to crab fishermen in Alaska though they fish the same sea . There is just so much there that I could draw from that I never thought to in this way before.
The issue is not so much subject matter. It is seeing design relationships. Color variance in the ocean serves as a function that can be inspiring. Some colors are meant to draw attention…a question for a designer is how? Some colors are meant to blend in… a designer question is when is that appropriate and for what purpose? The contours of a coral reef can create amazing patterns in contrast to the behemoth mass of a whale. These size variances raises the question of design relationships which is a great question for a designer to ask.
Is the ocean the only answer…no, but it is a good one, and a great one for me. The ocean has been an important symbol all of my life. I was raised breathing the salty air and feeling sand in my toes. I feared the dark waves and saw the fins of creatures that would take a life. I swam swirling in its greens and blues, and shared meals from it, and learned some of my most powerful life lessons on survival from it. I have read that some call the oceans mysterious, and they are, but I will yearn to make them less so from a design perspective for myself.