Design professionals need to constantly innovate and strive for perfection. Innovation or perfectionism isn’t enough for a good design. It requires a burst of creativity and an appreciation for what is considered aesthetic.
However, developing a sense of aesthetics cannot be taught in schools or training programs. It is something that a person cultivates over a period of time. Developing a sense of aesthetics not only helps one to appreciate beauty around us but also create beauty as well. Designers know very well that their work will only be appreciated when they create beautiful products or services.
We recently came across a paper written by Neera Parekh at the Gnostic Centre, New Delhi. It specifically describes what an aesthetic sense is and elaborates on the specific skills that are required to develop a sense of aesthetics. What impressed us about the paper is, it takes examples from real life situations and explains how we can use those situations to develop a keen sense of aesthetics.
On that note, we shall list a few pointers that should help you to develop a sense of aesthetics and improve your design ideas as well.
1. Look for beauty around you
Though we live in crowded and polluted cities where the green cover has drastically reduced, there is still beauty all around us. Look for those charming old buildings or find beauty in the perfection of a bird’s feathers and plumage. This perfection and natural beauty need to inspire you to create ideas that are lasting & aesthetically pleasing. Find inspiration in all things that you see and apply that beauty to your own design products.
2. Appreciate all forms of art
What human beings create can be just as beautiful as nature. Music, painting, literature, films etc. can all teach you about aesthetics. Art forms always teach their connoisseurs how to appreciate beauty and how to develop a sense of aesthetics. Slowly over a period of time, you begin to develop a more refined sense of what is beautiful and what is not. That will help you to create products and designs that are aesthetically pleasing.
3. Look for beauty in yourself and others
Qualities like kindness, generosity, affection and nurturing are all forms of beauty. They might not be tangible but can certainly be perceived. These forms of beauty will help you to become a better person and that is required to create things that are beautiful.
Appreciate all the good qualities that you have and that others posses. Translate those qualities in great design ideas. For instance, appreciate the simplicity of your friend; and apply that simplicity to your website. Simplicity and minimalism are some of the most important qualities of a well-designed website.
4. Reject what is unpleasant or unnecessary including shallow appreciation of beauty
In the paper that we previously mentioned, Neera Parekh asks us to reject vulgarity where we find it. We couldn’t possibly agree more. When Steve jobs created the iPhone, he probably rejected everything that was not required on a phone. All those features which added to a device’s crassness were removed. Similarly, learn to reject what is not required. Beauty naturally forms because of the lack of unnecessary features.
At this point, we need to also state that what is beautiful is not necessarily beauty. A person who looks great need not be a great person. Learn to discriminate between shallow appreciation of beauty and inherent beauty. Hollow appreciation of external beauty is vulgar; and that is not aesthetics at all.
5. Learn from all things beautiful
When you notice beautiful things and appreciate beauty in nature, you will observe that we are hard-wired to appreciate things that are perfect. Perfection can be described as a cognitive schema that makes us more attentive to geometrically uniform patterns. Such geometrically uniform patterns can be found all over the natural world.
An example would be a snowflake. A flake of snow contains geometrical patterns that humanly can’t be reproduced. If you want to create a design that is beautiful, make sure that it is microscopically patterned and perfect.
Develop an aesthetic sense slowly but surely
Learn to appreciate beauty around you but do not fall into the traps of noticing only external beauty. Beauty needs to be matched with perfection, whether perfection of design or perfection of human character; and in fact, it is the perfection of design or of human character that creates beauty.
Painting random colors on a canvas will not make it a beautiful painting. The creative thought and the intention behind a painting and the context make it beautiful. With that in mind, developing a sense of aesthetics does not happen overnight. It is a cultivated quality, which helps to create great design as well.