Pattern understanding

Page 1

Pattern understanding. Thesis research book

Thanks to all people that warmly surrounded me with their laughs, smiles and hopes, also to all those who made me doubt of my self and those from whom I learned to overcome my expectations.

Joan VellvĂŠ Rafecas 2013-2014 MA-Social Design Design Academy Eindhoven

Mentors; Aldo Bakker Liesbeth Huybrechts Dick Van Hoff

= /Introduction


! /From Awareness to understanding.


“ /A system of professionalization.


· /Standardization and modularit y.


¢ /Pattern introduction.


∞ / The flexible common.


& /Patterns through mathematics and perception.


&! / The plastic number.


÷ /Formal Familiarit y.


÷! /Macro scope.


( / The smart egoist .


) /Self-sustainabilit y.


@ /Pattern serendipit y


# / When aesthetics meet hermeneutics.


“ /Patterns and chaos


=/ Introduction

This thesis focuses on patterns as epitome of a natural dialogued development and organization ideal. Nowadays there is thºe understanding that individual free will is somehow contradictory to the communitarian behavior. Because of this understanding we find either individualists or communists (avoiding any direct link to the political move). It’s either the individual more important than the community or the community more important than the parts that is composed from. We understand products in a communist scene, outcomes that bring results, if they are lots of pieces or a few, most of times doesn’t really matter. The importance of objects as communities is downsizing the importance of the parts. On the other hand, if we look at most of western societies social organization, we find that the focus point is inverted. The community becomes only a resource for the individuals to be promoted, to be enhanced. The sad truth is that generally individualistic approaches towards social organization don’t achieve cohesion. Therefore the tensions created in between individuals is not towards a dialogued development but to a clash and collapse. Seeing our social organization under an individualistic approach bring us to a failure when tackling problems derived from community context.

A pattern understanding represents a way to relate both, individualistic approach and communitarian understanding without the need to create antagonisms. Patterns transforms the imposed formalisms or organizational pyramids creating a differentiated approach towards what is the context, what are the actors and actants, which are the limitations and the magnitude of the consequences. A pattern understanding can irrigate through capillarity all layers of the design practice, from the understanding of objects, communities or systems till the capacities and capabilities of technique. From the decisions on the making process of pieces to the conception of structural space, all can be representative of the characteristics of patterns. The constructive patterned compendium of Christopher Alexander on towns, buildings and constructions is a clear example on the connection capacities of patterns and the high representative qualities that these have upon our development. But furthermore, a pattern understanding has to irrigate and impregnate the project development and the design practitioners mind. The aim of these following chapters is not to present an ultimate view of the topic, neither to create a step by step system, but to bring topics to the surface that can report to an understanding of the qualities of a patterned design thinking and the opportunities of such. Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Through this text different qualities and characteristics of patterns are exposed. Patterns understood as key for a better adaptation and development for many reasons. The most important is that breaks with this dichotomy over the perception of individual and group.

It shifts the perspective of both individual and community, part and whole.


! /Patterns, an alternative paradigm. Shifting designer and users paradigm through patterns.

“Ultramundane products come into their own when they challenge our ability to understand them” Justin mcGuirk

In this project and thesis there is a focus into patterns from several perspectives, with the belief that patterned physical, mathematical or relational structures are more resilient, adaptable and self-sustainable than the actual organizational model. Moreover, the qualities perceived in patterned organizations can be segregated to be reintegrated into a design practice, shifts the current state of actors and actants in order to work towards the same benefit. “In science today we are witnessing a general shift away from the assumption that the fundamental nature of matter can be considered from the point of view of substance (particles, quanta) to the concept that the fundamental nature of the material world is knowable only through its underlying patterns of wave forms.” Sacred Geometry; Phylosophy and practice. Rober Lawlor

Pattern understanding.

The actual paradigm of designer as experience creators, to transmit the consequent


awareness or as product facilitators, to my understanding, is not enough to empower users. Awareness doesn’t integrate understanding; on the other hand, understanding does have as consequence awareness. The qualities of a pattern make intrinsic the need for understanding to appropriate and reintegrate in new outcomes. In a symbolical approach, the use of patterns and the embodiment of their function will bring the torch from the awareness role to an understanding for development We live in a society that is based on the paradigm of the Capitalist model. We see ourselves now living the consequences of the system, where an economical crisis and several levels of scarcity are striking all around. Moreover, where disenchantment from a major number of people towards the way we are organized is pulling the strings for changes. Social movements are claiming, all around the world, a different standard for the “status quo”. The actual system is no longer able to represent the alternative; it’s not hope for a new model anymore like in the happy 20’s.

Design wise, the liberal capitalist model and the consumerist syndrome, defined by Sigmund Bauman, brought us into a partitioned design process; design thinking, design development, production process, assembly lines, etc. Where users as end chain link don’t have any role apart from those, which are previously chosen for those “who know what the users need”. The process of production and its intrinsic complexity enhances the need of translating objects and their encoded system into accessible interfaces. Every time creating layers meant to decode and reformulate. Recomposing and discomposing elements to blend them into an unclear fashionable “smart” way of curating the understanding of whatsoever called users. Downsizing “a priory” user’s understanding capacities creates a gap in between technology and what is formally presented. All in all, creating a detachment from people to the object because of not being able to understand and re-integrate their implicit or explicit knowledge. Which has as a consequence a conscious and/or unconscious obsolescence and a lack of responsibility towards the “after/pre-life” of the same.

no common measure with the human being and the human body. Nor, by extension, can it any longer be symbolized: functional form scan do no more than connote it. Certainly they overburden it with meaning their absolute consistency but at the same time they are formal expressions of the void that separates us from our power ; in a sense they are the ritual that accompanies the miracle-working of the modern world” Baudrillard The system of objects.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Technology has overwhelmed the capacities of the singular brain, making hardly possible for us to get engaged and involved by these encoded objects or as Justin mcGuirk frames them, ultra mundane objects. As users we have to reclaim a closer approach to the questions that involve any design object. As designe practitioners, a new position towards design hermeneutics and serendipity has to be embodied.

“Man technical power can thus no longer be mediated, for it has


“ /A system of professionalization. From a partitioned towards a coalescent system. “By the nineteenth century, other forms of endeavour sought the social and economic status enjoyed by the elite professions. (...) Professionalization acts as a system of exclusion by setting up criteria that, intentionally divides individuals and groups on the basis of money, class, ethnicity and gender.” “Until de 1980’s, the history of design was usually seen in terms of the personal genius of individual professional designers and the objects they produced. Indeed, the idea of design profession is bound up with the establishment of creative individuality, the separation of tasks and the suppression of collaboration with artisans and craftmen. Artists promoted their individuality whereas artisans were anonymous workers whose labour was collective.” Gerry Beegan Paul Atkinson “Professionalism, Amateurism and the boundaries of Design”

Professionalization created a need of differentiation and hedonism for those who adopted the new model. The standard went from the industrial model where the basis of its means was to create a standardization to universalize goods, towards a standardization that seek status and relay on formalism. “ Formalism encrusts form, and overlays it with another form, changing it creating something different. From a formalist point of view the only reason to create a project is to achieve a different result.” Enzo Mari

Pattern understanding.

Outcomes, as in magical spectacles, show what is not important to be seen to understand but what sends the “proper” message. Formalism makes practically impossible for a non-regulated person to react and interact with the knowledge that is inherent and hidden in the object, a status formalism that is not connected to any context but to itself. Interfaces and interactive supports aren’t for-


mally defined by the function of the objects, but for the need of translating a production system into commercial aesthetics. The same interactive supports can be used for music, video, fridges and any kitchen devices. Stating implicitlly that form follows function in a non reciprocal relation. We stopped designing objects as tools and we treated them as gifts, with paper and lace As the function of objects has been growing in scale, and the technology evolved into a much more complex modular system, the need of interfaces becomes imprisoning and lacking further appropriation than the superficial customization that has arisen. “Creative skills have been promoted at all. The fact is that we are guided to think so, but not really doing it (...) a kind of standardization of creativity easy to manage and to fit into commercial financial models”. Hilde Bouchez Pimp your Home: Or why design cannot remain exclusive.

*Ref er encing the nar rati ve explained in Donald Nor man’s book Emotional design. Par ticular y linked to the example of the thr ee tea pots.

From one side, the ruling paradigm allows customizing, adapting to a series of rules or laws, a modularity that encodes the system by partitioning all the functionalities, by creating layers. While this model keeps growing and growing, the detachment between the formal appearance of the functional technology and the interactive technology enlarges. We define ourselves through our nonmaterial and material means. The objects that we consume represent those that are materialized. We learned through objects how to interact, we understood through objects and technology and they cannot be put aside from any social theory. We dress, we use, we buy, we share, we build and we play. We understand others and ourselves through the lens of the objects that are surrounding us whilst contextualizing the relation into a system of reciprocity. We forgot to mention them every time that we were talking about our environment, context or planet because they are expendables. They disappear of our sight as long as they do what they’re told. We only see them when they have a malfunction. Even when we attach meanings to them, to their aesthetics or use, we have integrated so much the obsolescence that they represent that we do not try anymore to include them in a long-term state of things. Excluding those which attached memories are strong enough to make them prevail in front of its disuse.*

In a pattern the importance of the society (understood as coalition that works towards a common goal) created in between users and objects has a pivotal role regarding the sustainability of the system. The intention is to make the user formulate and question the making decisions of the object and therefore being able to reformulate the same object under their own perspective. All in all, articulating a relation that goes beyond the use. A dialogue that seeks understanding as trigger for curiosity. A kick off for the imaginary that the pieces carry, inherent to their formal/functional appearance and interaction in between structure. Looking for a way to transmit structural and action-reaction comprehension, tension and flexibility through a practical approach.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

We have a system of reciprocity with them; they are our mediating tools and we are supposed to maintain their cutting edge sharp, but with the technological race out of control we broke that reciprocity while not being able to understand the fixing needed. Moreover,

not even those who play part on the development and creation of these objects have a perspective view where they can understand the bigger picture. The expertise and professionalization relay on the partition of tasks and responsibilities, therefore the global picture, feeling of responsibility and its consequences remain blindfolded.


· /Standardization and modularity. In reaction of the actual standardization system. Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceeding generation . . . Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. Richard Feynman

It’s important to highlight the differences between the uses of Standardization in the actual production model and in a pattern-structured system. To differentiate both is mandatory to look for the basis of why and how standardization affects the final outcome. In the industrial model modularity represents a rigid and enclosed parametric system. By being decontextualized and immobile, the transmitted message by the standardization, is that an universal reach is possible, as long as the system doesn’t refers to any context in particular but to itself, its regulations and legislations. On the other hand much alike in standards of science, pattern standardization is subjected to change and to be doubted. Just by challenging the standard it also can be empowered.

Pattern understanding.

A patterned organization also looks in a reproduction of standardized elements to create a base starting point from where to progress through understanding, creating a linear narrative in between different outcomes, a standard that although susceptible to change and evolution, always referrers to the standard. A way


to show and give direct information of the use, function or form. A standard more close to the ideal that, by being completely transparent, simple and direct can be understood, flexed or bended at will. “In other words, all the materials carriers of cultural content in the modern period have been standardised just as it was done in the production of all goods.(...) So while mass culture involves putting together new products from a limited repertoire of themes, narratives icons using a limited number of conventions, this is done by the teams of human authors on a one by one basis.” Lev Manovich Remixability.

Moreover while modular systems of Remixability* are either enclosed combinations of predefined elements or standardized parts, a model towards an inclusive pattern system bases its repetition on rhythm and cadence, this second has a coalescent way of blending parts together, relays on a patterned progression. Contrary to the actual model of organization where outcomes appear

*Following the nar rative that Lev Manovich pr esents in the text “Remixing and Remixabilityability”

Finn Stone, Found Objects. Made in China

as encoded collages that again become modules to remix. The complexity of the system arises from an enciphered progression. A perfect glass doesn’t exist, although the ideal of the glass, as perfect, can be understood. The materialization of this ideal is not possible due to its value as concept. This ideal cup is not tangible either static, as a concept doesn’t relay on particles. It is as flexible as the context demands or the individual perspective requires. That correspondence to the need requires an understanding and adaptation through imaginary, which are only possible if we acknowdge that we know, feel and embody the ideal that we seek. This concept of ideal is the standard that any design tries to interpret.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

The ideal and standard are not the same in the actual model. The standard is not placed in the weigh and test site to prove its worth every time, cannot be flexed and there is no ductility on it because it is linked to the formality of the same and therefore the concept of standardization that is inherent is not global but case specific.


¢ /Pattern introduction. A quick pick into the understanding of Patterns. One of the most important lessons of modern physics is that the way things are organized sometimes matters more than what they are made of. The same carbon atoms that make soft, dull graphite also make sparkling and super-hard diamond. Organization matters. Mark Buchanan The social Atom

Patterns are the way connected events or things are perceived. The evolution of humanity is based on the ability to recognize patterns where any other animal couldn’t. To understand them in order to achieve a better adaptation, to learn from and use in our advantage. We based all our communities, understanding of time and scientific knowledge in the study of patterns and how we relate to them. All sciences somehow are a way to discover the patterns that lead to understanding in their respective fields. In a generic ideal a pattern allow flexible behaviors while connecting the same. We not only can learn from patterns from the outside world, but also from inside society. Most of times same patterns that can define social communitarian behavior can also define natural “social” behavior.

Pattern understanding.

The way we behave as a group, the way we relate in spaces, all in all physic scientific proofs that simple free will and individual behavior is at the same time compatible with commu-


nity pattern. Intrinsically bonding the ideal of community vs. individual in a reciprocal system. A clear visual example * consists in the comparison of a pattern with the behavior of any net, where the knots are individuals that are eventually link to others. The individual behavior of knots is related to the material empty space, which is majoritarian. But the reality is that the whole net is interconnected and therefore any move of an individual affects and reacts to movements of others. “When we see some social sur prise that we can't understand, a riot, a sudden wave of social protest, some crazy and seemingly senseless new fashion or the unexpected collapse of a great company and we often think that it's the baffling behaviour of the people involved, as individuals, that leads to our puzzlement. But the real reason is often quite different it is not the people as individuals that confound us, but the collective social patterns that well up among them. Even if people were completely simple automatons with all their behaviour fully and easily predictable we'd still often be confused by the amazing and sur prising things that happen when you put 10 or 100 of them together.” Marc Buchanan The Social Atom

*The net example is alr eady used by many writers as Br uno Latour and Mar c Buchanan to expr ess the patter ned qualities in the material w orld.

By creating this space where the connections are the strength and the individuals or knots need to relay on the others in a reciprocal relation, the net adapts. Eventually knots will break or the connection will erode creating then blind spots. In that point is where the knowledge of the fisherman is required, otherwise the strengthen optimization of the material in the net will derive to a delicate and breakable structure of threads. The breakability of any pattern is something that is inherent to it, always nascent and decaying as Lars Spuybroek defines “sympathy”. Under this particular viewpoint we can define two kinds of typologies of patterns, natural behaviors and man made structures. Whether in the first we can find from the mathematical ratios to social group dynamics, in the second we can include from collaborative systems, markets, and Internet platforms, amongst others. The first group is not only breakable or able to handle decay but also nascent, while in the second group the reaction to breaking is not nascent, sometimes repairable, recyclable, or replaceable, all process that require knowledge and creative reinterpretation from the user perspective

“In The Social Atom I explore how scientists are beginning to see that much the same is true when you look at the social world. Much more than their individual personalities, what is most important is the patterns of how people interact. Just as you can study the atoms in a diamond in infinite detail and never answer why it is diamond and not graphite, you’d never understand the social world even if you knew everything about individual people. So in a sense, physics and social science really face much the same problem, trying to understand how relatively simple parts get put together to create wholes, collective systems with properties all their own.” Marc Buchanan

Another direct conclusion that can be made arises from the intrinsic complexity that can represent to analyze extensively a patterned phenomenon. Is not only about the empirical proving of it, but also the amount of connections that exist in between a simple act. We have to understand that somehow everything plays its role. Although is not possible to completely segregate all phenomena into irreducible parts there is need to segregate a pattern in order to understand for a coming integration.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

The lack of knowledge makes technically impossible to recreate natural processes or ratios into the man made world, even to copy natural cycles in our need for hypervelocity. It’s all a matter of organization; the patterns that define natural behavior are all set to be in the same interlaced cycles to strengthen “Nature”. A society in its primal sense, articulated to be self-sustainable and to strengthen the whole. On the other hand there is not the appreciation that all man made structures should be considered in the same “wholis-

tic” way, but the system is based on enhancing individualities rather than those common points that we all stand for.


∞ /The flexible common. A thought over space. “There is abundant evidence to show that high building make people crazy. High buildings have no genuine advantages, except in speculative gains for banks and land owners. They are not cheaper, they do not help create open space, they destroy the townscape, they destroy social life, they promote crime, they make life difficult for children, they are expensive to maintain, they wreck the open spaces near them, and they damage light and air and view. But quite apart from all this, which shows that they aren’t very sensible, empirical evidence shows that they can actually damage people’s minds and feelings.” Cristopher Alexander “A Pattern Language”

“Arquitecture is to generate various senses of distances. The

Patterns are mainly empty space.Without empty space there would be no measure for repetition, no measure for rhythm or time. An optimization of the empty space brings ties, constrictions and further collapse. The space that remains empty, the silence, the black or white, are all the measure for cadence in between events, things or notes. Without space for emptiness, relax or pause there wouldn’t be any way to weight a narrative in between events, therefore no pattern. Without empty space there’s no room for flexibility or adaptation

Pattern understanding.

Patterned systems mainly relay on the ability to create connections, the empty space gives to the nodes the ability to make their flexibility adaptable to the whole. That is because we consider the center of a pattern not its individuals but the collective, the empty space then, becomes structure.


In objects as in society the coalition of elements in a common objective sets the base for future development. On a patterned system the common grows, can be shared and is not imprisoning.

origin of architecture must have been constituted purely of “distances”. Far before the advent of roofs or walls, only the


various modulations of distances were recognized. Distance predicated the defrees of interactions amongst persons and objects; thus, the profound spatial expresions of potential expanses were enriched by diverse qualities of gradiations and intonations. (...) People can discover places for habitation in those cadences of space. Primitive Future Sou Fujimoto

From then on the context materializes itself through the flow or rhythm of events, especially from the pattern in which something is experienced. In the actual model of production objects are overburden with “stuff ”, compacts and composed to reduce the empty space, to reduce the unproductivity of space. That has as a consequence that they remain static in a constant changing environment. Moreover it also demands little participation from the end user because objects are en-

“I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet,

closed with input and output, with a one-way involvement. The empty space is the space for imagination and reciprocity, pushing the understanding of the parts its duties and responsibilities. From a user perspective, understanding the pieces and how to connect them in order to reintegrate the network in an always-demanded adaptation to context. But simple growth is not development, it is not measure for development thus it only relay to expansion. The demanded growth brought elements as composite outcomes to overcome the unproductivity of the empty space. Not only in material terms, but also to the “now and fast” claims from our part. No time for visual, physical or temporal pause in objects, no unproductivity of space. No empty space. No space for dialogue in between parts. Imposed constrains that fail to play a role of guidance and dialogue and advocate fetishing the end results

concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don't worry. It's all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don't know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect.” Jack Kerouac, The Portable Jack Kerouac

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

The pale Blue Dot, Voyager 1. 1990. Ear th fr om a distance of about 6 billion kilometers.


& /Patterns through mathematics and perception. The organizational nature of what is percieved.

“All our sense organs function in response to the geometrical or proportional - not quantitative - differences inherent in the stimuli they receive. For example, when we smell a rose we are not responding to the chemical substances of its perfume, but instead to the geometry of their molecular construction. That is to say, any chemical substance that is bonded together in the same geometry as that of the rose will smell as sweet. Similarly, we do not hear simple quantitative differences in sound wave frequencies, but rather the logarithmic, proportional differences between frequencies, logarithmic expansion being the basis of the geometry of spirals.” Rober Lawlson Sacred Geometry

What makes a pattern precious is also what makes it genuine. Patterns exist as long as there is somebody to recognize them, because the perception of a pattern is the interpretation of what exists and how to connect it. All in all events or things that are, exist and happen with or without human intervention. Defining a pattern as something that is perceived is because through patterns/networks our brain organizes the information that actually is perceived. What exists or happens in nature is also what happens in and in between us. We, nature as well, are forged with the same patterns of development as the rest of the known. “Our experience teaches us that there are indeed laws of nature, regularities in the way things behave, and that these laws are best expressed using the language of mathematics. This raises the interesting possibility that mathematical consistency might be used to guide us, along with experimental observation, to the laws that describe physical

Pattern understanding.

reality, and this has proved to be the case time and again


throughout the history of science.” Brian Cox Why Does E=mc²?

Some examples of patterns we can find them in and out, in between or around society, material, or man made structures. The first example would be the Φ Golden ratio, which explains a relation in between two measures, a mathematical way to relate two quantities. Two entities are in Φ if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. We can express this proportion mathematically (A+B is to A as A is to B). Math focus on the use of patterns to formulate new conjectures, seeks to verify through deductive arguments, as deductive reasoning, which can distinguished be from empirical arguments. Φ is found in plenty of natural or mathematical forms. The ratio Φ turns up frequently in geometry, particularly in figures with pentagonal symmetry. The length of a regular pentagon’s diagonal is Φ times its side. The vertices of a regular icosahedron are those of three mutually orthogonal golden rectangles or the intrinsic bond in between the golden ratio and Fibonacci.

Ber t Meyers, Nautilus X-ray

The last is the result of a progressive development of the first. This expression of progression in its spiral shape is possible to be found in the Nautilus family of cephalopods.

If we can connect events so diverse under the umbrella of the same ratios, must be somehow because of the simplicity of the same, but also for its experience based origin written formula. All in all there shouldn’t be any link in between; how we perceive a shape deriving from these proportions and the “good looking” of the same if it was not because it’s all a matter of our perception. What our brain understands is translated by

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

In a different perspective we also can find other patterns that are representative around. The Normal distribution or Gaussian distribution is a function that tells the probability that an observation in some context will fall between any two real numbers, a probability theory that generally is represented by the standard normal distribution or Gauss bell. We can find this distribution or an approximation to it in the ideal gas molecules’ velocity. In biology in the measures of size of living tissue or physiological measurements such as blood pressure. Not only in nature but also in man made structures such as the Stock market in particular in the Black-Scholes model.

Our behavior in community can also fall in this distribution in certain moments, and that doesn’t interfere with our free will, the standard normal distribution is representative for example of the applauses recordings at the end of events, as Marc Buchanan highlights in his book “the Social Atom”.


a good feel, maybe looks good or simply “is how it should be”, but generally in a positive reaction. Partially because our brain can react to it and easily integrate that information, as well as we can embody without the need of complete rational understanding. Patterns whisper an easy language for our brain to understand. Seems natural to think that after centuries of struggle and fight for adaptation, as a result of these contingencies, intern and extern, we’ve developed a kind of symbiotic relation. Somehow, if in any case we could be defined as different from nature, we grew into an embodiment of nature’s rules. There is a certain biomimicry that bonds us together. A biomimicry that not only is represented in biological or relational understanding, but also in a organizational criteria, setting the precedents to follow of a long time forged identity of human being. “There is no contradiction between individual freedom and

When we look at individuals there’s a basic understanding, explained through “Emotional Design” of Donald Norman, where is explained how through understanding we are satisfied with ourselves. We can understand that easily in our skins, the self-insurance injected through our neurotransmissors. Our brain and memory work in networks of knowledge, experience or imaginary, where patterns are the key for specific information. Finding problems or unknowns triggers curiosity and by solving or understanding them we achieve a better disposition towards adaptation. Patterned systems, mathematical proportions or ratios are an ideal vessel that transports information, much alike in music. Melody, harmony or rhythms aren’t enclosed but entities to bring narrative to content. The way we interact with patterns is both conscious and unconscious, following Buchanan’s book, but none of both affects the pattern that is represented.

the existence mathematical laws for the human world much

“The very comprehensibility of the world points to an intelli-

like those of physics. The idea that there is rests on a deep

gence behind the world. Indeed, science would be impossible if

misunderstanding. Think about the end of a music concert.

our intelligence were not adapted to the intelligibility of the

You can begin clapping early or late, clap for a long or

world. The match between our intelligence and the intelli-

short time, expressing your individual attitude. But if you

gibility of the world is no accident. Nor can it properly be

make recordings of clapping - and scientists have actually

only attributed to natural selection, which places a premium

done this - you find that the way the sound rises and falls

on survival and reproduction and has no stake in truth or

tends to follow a universal mathematical pattern, much like

conscious thought.”

clockwork. The pattern acts back to influence and channel individual actions. So while we’re free, we’re also strongly

William A. Dembski

influenced and channelled by social patterns”

The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design

Pattern understanding.

Marc Buchanan


The social atom


Dom Hans Van der Laan description fr om his of ficial w ebpage. The same includes se veral tools and key notes to understand the Plastic Number and it’s patter ned intrinsic qualities.

&! /The plastic number. Dom Hans Van der Laan

(December 29, 1904 - Mamelis, August 19, 1991)

Dom Hans Van der Laan was a Dutch Benedictine monk and architect. His theories on numerical proportions in architecture, including the plastic number, had a major impact.

“We must see this great confrontation of architecture

The plastic number differs from all previous systems of architectural proportions in several fundamental ways. Its derivation from a cubic equation (rather than a quadratic one such as that which defines the golden section) is a response to the three dimensionality of our world. It is truly aesthetic in the original Greek sense, i.e., its concern is not ‘beauty’ but clarity of perception.

grow out into that of the largest whole, the confrontation

Its basic ratios, approximately 3:4 and 1:7, are determined by the lower and upper limits of our normal ability to perceive differences of size among three-dimensional objects. *

and nature as the counter part of our intellect’s initial encounter with the infinite extent of that spatial given. And since this same spatial given itself gave rise to the measure-scale that enabled the form of the smallest part with it of the ultimate building-form completes a sort of cycle” “Since we cannot call our masking genuine creation, but rather a reshaping of one or other element of the created world of nature, we must regard the whole play of cultural forms, not as an autonomous form-world, but as a human reaction to the order of nature. It is a way of adapting that order to human existential needs: through the needs of the body by means of the function of our artefacts, and to the needs of the mind through their expression.” Dom Hans Van der Laan *

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Dom Hans Van der Laan, plastic number char ts. *


÷ /Formal Familiarity A key for understanding, a progressive development. There is something always fishy and I believe deeply wrong in the idea of a whole superior to its parts. I have always the feeling that we have not moved from Menenius Agrippa’s famous smile of “the Members and the Belly”. Remember CORIOLANUS. If you accept the notion of organism as something different or superior or even emerging , you lose what an organization is. A phenomena may be collective without being social. Bruno Latour “Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflections of an Actor-network theorist”

Patterns are whole for a consecutive series of acts or elements. Following this ideal the importance of the relation in between elements plays a major role. Consequently the pattern seen as the whole defined is as important as the individual entities. They both shape each other and reframe the relation within and with the context. The pivotal role of the organizational level in any system brings us to the understanding of both as equals. Both represent entities from different points of view. Is impossible to define one without the other and isn’t possible to tackle problems that involve one or the other without a comprehension of this fact.

Pattern understanding.

The partitioned model that is representative of the production line is not leveling the parts with the whole, a symptomatic problem where the individuals are centered fetishes of the production, achieving outcomes as ultra mundane objects and not entities, or things (Justin McGuirk


– Design Academy Source Lecture 2014). We can understand formal familiarity symbolically as the fractal theory explains the infinite reproduction of a formal type or as the continuity or sympathy (according to Lars Spuybroek) that forms and things feel for each other. Is not about the formal aspect only or the sequenced proportion of it, but the familiarity that can be ascribed understanding transitions and how these are also representative of the whole. Individuals, transitions and organizations are all in the same narrative, which brings a common message, allowing individual perception of the parts as indivisible from the whole and the other way around. If we think about non planned architecture in an urban level and it’s street map. We can see lines that certainly follow more what looks like natural patters of crackling surfaces than man made rationalized compositions. Fractals, chaos theory or

* Paul Jackson Pollock (Januar y 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956) was an influential American painter and a major figur e in the abstract expr essionist movement.

non-planned urban structures have lots in common because they deal with individuals and global shaping both progressively, understood as formal familiarity narrative. It’s not a planned composition or a rationalized organization. The outcome is just a consequence of the individual and the transitions. Outcomes aren’t enclosed entities but result of negotiated common ground with multiple starting points and their connections. Much alike a Pollock * painting where the result, as a painting, is an indissoluble consequence of his way of making, and for that matter, a multiplicity of interactions, impressions, expressions and connections. Paint stained with energy against a canvas, each drop leaving its traces, each one blends with the previous. “To understand specific aesthetics, we have to study them as they related to each other, as cluster or even a knot of elastic feeling all involved to each other. The aesthetics are often described as signs or information, making the waggle dance a mere language.” Lars Spuybroek The Sympathy of Things

“'s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted as independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.” David Bohm Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980

In the current popular aesthetics, the formal appearance of the outcomes of a design practice is the leading force of the process. The actual overflow of information brings a need for partitioning it; a system of modularity is defined by a predetermined outcome, not by the tension between individual and the whole at once. For this understanding embodying that the process of development is a continuous tension in between the idea of the whole as an entity and the freedom of the individuals is crucial to develop any composed outcome. To achieve a balanced relation in between parts is necessary to look for a correlation that goes beyond the technical possibilities, but also to its formal and functional behavior, in its

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Here again is important to enhance the perceptive nature of patterns. Furthermore, if the perception is through individualities, biomimicry, as an understanding of formal familiarity in between individuals, will tend to reach a better adaptation. If the focus is in society in the organitsational level of the same, we

can reproduce the biomimicry and formal familiarity reasonments to conclude that the way we think of nature’s organization affects the way we set our own.


Greek exception, to it’s aesthetics. Moreover if we try to look at a composition, element or thing, which refers to a patterned progression as a text to interpret, we can understand the pattern as the key element that will help us decipher the knowledge behind the accumulation of symbols and spaces. The possibility of inversing the process in an eloquent way to understand through segregation is amongst other qualities, the specific one that makes patterns valuable to us. We can invert the process as many times as needed, a deductive process that makes the information ductile under our hands. Although the symbols and spaces will remain the same, after we understand the pattern that derives from the language, we can not only understand the message of the text but also reintegrate the symbols into new outcomes. By understanding the parts (letters/words/sentences) and the whole (words/sentences/paragraphs) as equal important in the task to send a message, we can understand that the system of languages is the most valuable patterned system that we ever developed. Since we don’t understand objects as mediators, keys or tools but end result fetishes to achieve welfare, they don’t need to transmit understanding, teach or guide.

Pattern understanding.

Objects serve to their own purpose. They don’t help us to be more autonomous but they make us dependent on them to feel somehow autonomy. The role of objects as gifts and not as tools, mainly as con-


sumerist goods is reaching its collapse. Creates, by democratizing and lowering expectations of understanding, partitioned collages, which more and more are placed under the spot.A design practice based on pattern understanding brings segregation in the process of development, to be able to downsize the spectrum of information given. Segregate not to make partitions. Segregation follows a natural way to disaggregate entities that even being separated are conceived as part of a whole. Segregation is needed to highlight qualities and enhance understanding, to be able to look for the underlining concept, the layer of information that can be reproduced and guide through the project. A layer that far from being imposed arises from the qualities and design approach. After the natural process of segregation, there is the need to reintegrate these in the whole, integrating the analysis that segregation allowed. It is a way to create dialogue in between the section and the whole, both shaping each other, both feeling for each other. Much alike Sympathy in Lars Spuybroek imaginary, where this dialogue, this Sympathy is what things feel when they shape each other.

Shun Sasaki. untitled. 2013

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE


÷! /Macro scope. Quantum physics, a coalescent shift of the preceeding status. Classical physics says that reality is actually little particles that separate the world into its independent elements. Now I'm proposing the reverse, that the fundamental reality is the enfoldment and unfoldment, and these particles are abstractions from that. We could picture the electron not as a particle that exists continuously but as something coming in and going out and then coming in again. If these various condensations are close together, they approximate a track. The electron itself can never be separated from the whole of space, which is its ground. David Bohm

Pattern understanding.

On Quantum Physics


What has been framed as formal familiarity is a perspective towards nature and its patterns in its broader sense. This narrative is also common in scientific approaches as a way to formulate the way things are organized. In a macro scale, alike in social physics, as Marc Buchanan widely explains, or in the understanding of the action reaction theory and classical physics, which in their last terms show us that any act is reaction as consequence of previous states. The idea that energy cannot be destroyed or created but transformed reaffirms the previous and as a consequence is arguable that one that is still to be perceived can define by a known pattern that defines this two or any event.

lows explaining without the needs of empirical prove, but with the understanding of the formal familiarity key.

Amongst all approaches the one that follows better the understanding that this thesis tries to frame is the actual quantum theory. This allows explaining, with the same set of “laws”, from the behavior of the particles to the inexcusability of the smallest perceptible star in the universe in a clear night, also further ones. Quantum theory relates the previous under the same umbrella of theory, that al-

veals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot

But the most important fact about quantum physics is that presents a new perspective, which subverts the standard. Moreover, it includes the previous standard through the lens of a new understanding. A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement. Quantum theory thus redecompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated ‘basic building blocks’, but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole. Fritjof Capra The Tao of Physics, On Quantum Theory

Through the study and excurutiny over and over of what now is considered “classical” physics, a new understanding was developed. One that although being transversally opposed to the known, embodying a natural progression. The previous standard, classical physics, was proved as limited. The nature of quantum physics and quantum theory is what allows creating a real inclusive system in terms of sustainability. As a science, it’s tested every time by its own means which allows a constant revision of the patterns while testing and proving them.

of physics brings a large amount of windows for curious minds. Triggers perception because of its transgressive proposition, states a tension with the previous narrative with hope for a better understanding and brings inspiration to the creative scene.Quantum physics reveals itself as a gift. It shows in various levels, the connectivity, the cadence and rhythm, the formal familiarity of a pattern. Moreover shows a great flexibility, not about the theory, but about the understanding of the nature as science. Moreover, embodies the strength of an always-adapting system.

The declaration of imperfection of any theory as opposition to its perfection or complete understanding reveals and allows a constant improve and development.

Most of all shows the strict believe of such qualities and the ones before from those who are the experts. Those who understand that if they stop challenging they’re own expertise they would not handle that status anymore. Such a quality, often forgotten, is what makes Quantum physics so valuable. The embodiment that there’s no ultimate if involves nature.

Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceeding generation. Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. Richard Feynman The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

All in all, my interest on picturing quantum theory doesn’t relay on understanding its complexity. I am no expert and my knowledge has developed through a curious perspective of an outsider -Certainly I recommend to do so-. My interest is again focused as a representation theory of the world through patterns. In these case, a developing pattern understanding of the world through physics theory. The actual nascent state of the study


( /The smart egoist. Emboding patterns, enhancing the individual. “If a Covenant be made, wherein neither of the parties performe presently, but trust one another ; in the condition of meer Nature, (which is a condition of warre of every man against every man,) upon any reasonable suspition, it is Voyd: But if there be a common Power to set over them both, with right and force sufficient to compell performance; it is not Voyd. For he that performerth first, has no assurance the other will perdorme after ; because the bonds of words are too weak to bridle mens ambition, avarice, anger, and other Passions, without the faere of some coerceive Power ; which in the condition of meer Nature, where all men are equall, and judges of the justness of their own fears cannot possibly be supposed. And therefore he performerth first, does but betray himselfe to his enemy; contrary to the Right (he can never abandon) of defending his life, and means of living.” Hobbes Leviathan

First of all I’d like to clarify the difference that, in my eyes, there is in between the “egoist” and “individualist”. The big difference I see in between is that in the basis of the “individualist” there is a will to go alone without the community in order to achieve goals, acting in its sole discretion and not in accordance with the collective. When using “egoism”, I look for an idea where although the person is still the most important part of the equation of balance between benefit and costs, the collective is not set apart. “Our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers in small groups in the jungles and on the plains, and they often had deadly combat with others, or had to compete with others for land. It is not too hard to imagine that if two groups were competing , one being made of completely selfish individuals, and the other of ready cooperators, the latter would have a big advantage. Many of us today have altruistic feelings because such feelings have been essential to the successful history of human groups so you could say that even

Pattern understanding.

individual human character bears the traces of collective,


pattern effects.” Marc Buchanan The Social Atom

Our individualistic society model has spread so quickly that we no more understand why are important to work towards the community. Seeing cooperation as an intrinsic egoist deal enroots in the ideal that we can enhance the society while getting the best of each of us. By being egoist in a smart social way we can reach a better adaptation and therefore better personal and communitarian reactions. “A figure, a symbol, is a formal organization of variable points, not a fixed form. Fairly simple behavior by individual members resulting in complex and irreducible collective behaviour is a form of consumption.” Lars Spuybroek The Sympathy of things

Moreover we don’t understand that everything that surrounds us is part of what Society is. Environment, as nature, people and man made structures are all part of a society. Man interaction with nature and the ex-

change that has arisen have its origins in the same point in history as our evolution. We learned to cooperate to be able to survive in hostile environments. We evolved understanding that helping each other and helping the community was the only way to reach a certain level of personal welfare. A smart egoist would understand also that, pushing himself to the best would only reattribute in the same direction. While getting the best for us, wanting the best for us as well, and therefore being egoist, and smart egoist. “Humans are ultra-social creatures who do indeed help those who are not closely genetically related, but this helping is limited. In the evolution of human beings, there were always two opposed forces: a selection towards selfinterested behavior and one towards cooperative, altruistic, behavior.” Gerald Gaus Egoism, Altruism, and Our Cooperative Social Order

The actual main goal of our decades should be to preserve the system were we live in, to maintain its qualities by readapting us into them, retaking the dialogue, one to one, with nature and community to achieve a better self-sustainable system. To be smart by cooperating, not only with others but also with nature and man made structures as well. By being a smart social egoist, we’ll be able to reciprocate with nature and other actants, to be able to understand and readapt, to shift and evolve in a developing system.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Competitive collective sports give us a perfect example of how a smart egoist working towards the community works as well as towards him/her. In a small community as in football, organization is essential and best-organized teams are usually enhancing better the individuals. These individuals learn to scarify their endeavor in order to achieve collective goals. Mastering football qualities then, in an egoist perspective, will look for, not only better technique and therefore individual values, but also cooperative values within the community. Understanding other players and their qualities also provides an advantage. Whether we see the similarities or

not with this comparison, what might be not as clear as in sports is a common goal. In football winning matches, while our society has lost the collective goals when pushing individualistic mentalities. In most of actual societies there is no need to fight against nature to survive. There is no need to collaborate to find your spot in the system; you can find it for your own. We lost what the quantum physics example taught us, the constant disbelief on past and present status to prove them right. Moreover we lost the understanding that the sustainability of the pattern needs of tension in between part’s free will, but also is extremely delicate when the collective is not organized.


) /Self-sustainability. A dialogued understanding for development. “Sustainable degrowth goes also beyond decoupling material and energy use from growth (also referred to as ‘‘dematerialization’’), postulating that efficiency improvements alone are not sufficient and might be counter productive. Limits and reductions in the scale of production and consumption are the key to achieving a future of low material use. Rather than building a concrete Real alternative society, the decrease implies unlearn, break away from a wrong lifestyle, incompatible with the planet. We need to seek new forms of socialization, economic and social organization. Keeping growth policies (economy of scale, competitiveness and urgency) beyond the climax of injury to the difficult living conditions and the possibility of an orderly decrease. The most suitable application of the principles to a situation of limited resources can make decline to be compatible with a sufficient level of welfare.” Pepa Gispert Aguilar - “Decrecimiento: camino hacia la sostenibilidad”

The framework that this thesis proposes of a complex patterned layered reality bring us to the understanding, following pattern qualities, of its delicacy as a system. Although what we consider nature has proved as a resilient system. We are embodying the challenges as consequences of our imprint in the pattern. Now we have to be aware of the system in terms of sustainability of the same, to adapt and prevail. Not only in a large scale but as will be outspoken afterwards to smaller scales, pattern self-sustainability is then an achievement of adaptation, change and cyclical tension.

Pattern understanding.

Self-sustainability understood not only as the measure of sustainability related to the ideal use and lifecycle of things, but in a generic way of talking, acts with causes and consequences. In a material perspective, to the amount of waste they become or produce, to its uses and missuses, to the doors that they open and those that they leave closed. Moreover, to the relation that we have with matter and how life cycles of the same can be embodied in terms of development.Our context


claims self-sustainability from all its pores, not only in a material ideal but also in an energetic repercussion and, in a way, to make visible and understandable the true limitations of our context. To highlight that there is no such a thing as Pandora’s box where the wind always blow. It’s not only related to Design but a mentality that represents a way of living and it’s the antithesis of the Capitalist ideals’ core. It’s not anymore about Growth, either Degrowth but about A-growth. There is an idea that we all easily can understand, which is the cyclical nature of most of the systems, natural or man made voluntarily or socially representative, in terms of time. We all understand Art history in terms of waves that somehow are reproduced in a ripple effect, a dialogue between lots of voices that turn somehow in a balanced and progressive development. In a cooperative evolution tension is always needed, in between individuals but at the same time through the multiplicity of connections. All cultural spheres are more and more bottom-up processes because of the interconnectivity of the

scenario. There is much more dialogue in between parts, those that are more successful aren’t planned in large scale, but tried to have controlled all times. People try to adapt and maybe unconsciously does so, but also react against it because of not being either enough or being too much. Thinking in terms of time, the friction and mutual shaping make systems balanced in a cyclical perspective. Any system is perennial as long as it’s considered enclosed and not adaptable. With that simple idea in mind we can also understand that bigger systems by being more complex they are less adaptable and therefore closer to a certain collapse. Economical crisis, political crisis, employment, education, alimentation...etc. all of them are way too far from an ideal state, mainly because the lack of proper organization. The actual scarcity is only result of the model of production; scarcity is relative to the amount of material that can be used NOW. How can a cyclical almost perfect system that is self-sufficient and self-sustainable produce scarcity of anything? Are we setting the focus in the right scale? “The duration of 800 lives chained can range more than 50,000 years. But of these 800 people, 650 spent their lives in caves or in worse places, only the latest 70 have had some truly effective means to communicate with others, only the last 6 have seen the printed word or had the resources to measure

It is needed to embody that it’s not anymore, man vs. nature, that there are no realities that separates us from anything, either the objects that we consume. We are all part of the same “Patterned System” and the sustainability of the same is only depending on us. Our resources and our capacities are limited; we understand easily the second one because we live it in our skin, every time we learn something. Having a full understanding that our resources are limited too, is much more difficult. The idea of resource is a vague and broad idea that is spotted eventually and partially. Therefore is difficult to grasp. Limitation brings us whole new possibilities while creating smarter and more efficient systems, objects, etc. By designing through limitation we also understand that some sort of a-growth in order to evolve is needed. “What I have always found great in the metaphor of the net is that it is then easy to insist on its fragility, the empty spot it leaves around, the subversion it introduces in the notion of distance, but above all, what it does with universality: the area “covered” by any network is “universal” but just as long and just where are enough antennas, relays, repeaters, and so on.” “Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflections of an Actor-network theorist” Bruno Latour

heat or cold, only the last 2 have used, elecrtic engines, and the vast majority of component elements that our material of the 800 people.” Marc Buchanan “The Social Atom”

The self-sustainability of any system is based on cyclical patterns where the Now is only a point in a wave of the ripple effect, maybe doesn’t move respect the center, but it does

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

world has developed in the interval corresponding to the last


in a vertical axis, clearly not static. Not only moves but transmits the wave, the content, till the strength dissolves in to the water. Self-sustainability demands for an understanding that NOW is not the static concept which is sold, that is a consequence and that needs to endorse change in itself, that the actual high speed connectivity brought this fast shaping, a viral expansion, but that cannot blindfold the need of dialogued outcomes.

When using self-sustainability I include the concept of reciprocity. Again, a self-sustainable system deals with dialogue between parts the empty space and its transitions, all in all actions and reactions. Deals with a higher status of understanding than the actual model because users are not anymore receivers and actors or users as end chain link. Objects need to allow reciprocity from users as well as the opposite for the system to be self-sustainable.

Understanding the system as the coalescence between objects and users in a limited context. By not understanding and not being able to be reciprocal with them they are only the use that we give to them, practical or emotional, even both at the same time; malfunc“In short, no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can tions represent a challenge that can’t be dealt. exist in the world only to the extent that is supported by oth- They represent a higher deception in terms of self-insurance and here relays the importance er patterns: the larger patterns in which it is embedded, the of the understanding, simplicity and flexipatterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller bility in a pattern system. Nowadays objects are generally designed to not be repaired, at patterns which are embedded in it.” most to be recycled and recycling processes are highly representatives of the fail of the Christopher Alexander enlargement of the system. But if we step back, and we look at the pond, not the drop, we see an indefinite number of waves and turbulences that are affecting each other, the whole and in between them through complex action reaction.

Pattern understanding.

“A Pattern Language”


In a pattern representative model of organization, the flexibility, the dialogue and the intrinsic need of context are allowing a better understanding and therefore a better disposition against malfunctions. Not only that but allows a much higher reintegration of the use and function of parts. Brings cadence in an organizational level that can easily be reintegrated into other outcomes, further appropriation will provide a self-sustainable use through understanding and context blending. Is not only a sustainability of the object by itself but a society, a system of object/s and user/s towards a common goal, with enough from both parts to create a always nascent and decaying system of use, understanding and redefinition.

Processes that are meant to be enclosed and self-contained are clearly overwhelmed by the exponential material growth. The recycling industries are focused on the wealth of their partition, not the system, trying to achieve a cleaner and cheaper way to treat the waste. But their efforts are not enough and these will never solve the problem, because they are not tackling it but trying to reduce its print. As a partition they achieve what they are demanded, but nobody is asking why we should produce such an amount of waste and how to reintroduce the context limitation of our environment. Recycling systems will always be on the tail of a bigger system, which proceeds.

There is no single institution able to cover, oversee, dominate, manage, handle or simply trace ecological issues of large shape and scope. Many issues are too intractable and too enmeshed in contradictory interests.” “Is there a way to bridge the distance between the scale of the phenomena we hear about and the tiny Unwelt inside which we witness, as if we were fish inside its bowl, an ocean of catastrophes that are supposed to unfold? How are we to behave sensibly when there is no ground control station anywhere to which we cold send the message, ”Houston, we have a problem?” So what we do when we are tackling a question that is simply to big for us? If not denial, then what? One of the solutions is to become attentive to the techniques through which scale is obtained an to the instruments that make commensurability possible, After all, the very notion of anthropocene implies such a common measure. If it is true that “man is measure of all things” it could work also at this juncture. Bruno Latour Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflexions of an Actor-network theorist

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE


@ /Pattern serendipity Conclusions over the design research as a opportunity creator. I was at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico recording in my notebook the confirming observation of the first pulsar discovered by the search which formed the basis for my Ph.D. thesis. As excited as I am sure I was at that point in time, I certainly had no idea of what lay in store for me in the months ahead, a path which would ultimately lead me here today.(...) I would like to take you along on a scientific adventure, a story of intense preparation, long hours, serendipity, and a certain level of compulsive behavior that tries to make sense out of everything that one observes. The remarkable and unexpected result of this detective story was a discovery which is still yielding fascinating scientific results to this day, nearly 20 years later, as Professor Taylor will describe for you in his lecture. I hope that by sharing this story with you, you will be able to join me in reliving the challenges and excitement of this adventure, and that we will all be rewarded with some personal insights as to the process of scientific discovery and the nature of science as a human endeavor. Russell A. Hulse The Discovery of the binar Pulsar

The design practice is an opportunity, not only to serve with end results but also to reflect on the process that exists behind the design. Whether the outcomes are definitive, the process that leads to these is generally broader in focus and leading to a wider range of opportunities. The qualities of the design process are generally enclosed under the perspective of personal development or creative individuality, which shouldn’t be copied. In a sense by not sharing the process the only ability to learn from a project relays on the final outcome, downsizing the capabilities of any project in terms of progress of the ideal of the same, not of the designer behind it.

scientific research, open and put into test, in opposition of the research and process privacy of the design technique. In the first, the base understanding of the research will bring quality not only to the same but to all those that can use as starting point knowledge tested and understood through other practices or researches.

Pattern understanding.

If we look again to Physics but also to other sciences, and we try to mirror design practices to the homonymous, we can see the understanding of the process as center of a


Arte Ăštil, Vanabbe museum, Eindhoven 2014

Raw Colors, Liquid Palette; October 2010.

Every design process should be open and legible, understandable and willing to be used and or reframed. Design process should be open outwards challenging through understanding the qualities of the outcomes, understanding and reintegrating the information for its qualities. Outcomes as consequences of research, outcomes as test result, opening doors for new path, and opening windows to curious minds.

At the same time bringing a sort of cadence and formal familiarity within the information displayed. A guideline to help reformulate the project in others mind. This accumulation of knowledge and information will work in two directions, inwards to bring narrative to the project and feedback to be reformulated, and outwards to create an imaginary with a will for appropriation. Creating in both direc-

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Here again, in the research, is where design should be more similar to any science. A collaborative effort of enhancing the common knowledge, enhancing the understanding within the community to create dialogued researches in between designers, researches that can be combined or that simple are interconnected. Researches represent a multiplicity of interests and triggers.

Research as an open libraries, where all the information is there to be a sort of turning pages with material, research, tests, etc. Not necessarily a physical place, but an archive of conclusions, results and outcomes. All in all to promote and reinforce a pattern understanding of the project and, at the same time, to bring to the surface layers of information that allow to decipher or read outcomes for what they are. Making design decisions consequences of a practice of natural development and evolution within the project.


Atelier NL, Tilewall, project Drawn from Clay. 2008

tions the perfect context for serendipity to play its cards. In the actual designer position there is a need to be always in movement, physical or work perspective wise. The vision of traditional industrial product based is obsolete. More and more design practice requires to self-promote, self-produce, self-start projects to bring them into reality. This search for an always-demanding creativity for new paths requires forgetting several assumptions already proposed in previous chapters. Claims to embrace an always nascent and an open perspective to adapt.

development of a project, allowing a wide range of directions from where to start a design proposal, all of them working together, all under the same umbrella of action, all in the same direction, all to reinforce the others, to reinforce itself.

Pattern understanding.

Here again is important to understand the capabilities of a Pattern system and how can be beneficial to the design practice. By focusing on both the individuals and the pattern and not in the actual designed parts the practice opens doors every step of the


Martin Kolk & Guus Kusters, seen in DDW 2013

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

Journal of Genetics, vol 1 nยบ3 plate XXXV


# / When aesthetics meet hermeneutics Conclusions on the individual in a pattern understanding. "What I am looking for, it's not really the expression through gesture, words, mimics, but expression through rhythm and a combination of images, through their position, their relation and their amount. Before anything else, the pur pose of an image must be the exchange. But for that exchange to be possible, it is necessary that these images have something in common, that they participate together in a sort of union. That's why I try to give to my characters a sort of linkage, and ask my actors (all my actors) to speak in a certain way, to behave in a certain way, which is always the same one.” (...) "Yes, for me, the image is like a word in a sentence. Poets elaborate a vocabulary. They willingly use desperately common words. And it's the most common word, the most used, which, because it's in its right place, all of a sudden shines extraordinarily." Robert Bresson Supplément Lettres et Arts à Recherche et Débats no. 15, March 1951.

A literal approach to hermeneutics bring us to the science which studies the interpretation of words, sometimes related to etymology but more grounded to the exact meaning in the context of a text. In a design narrative hermeneutics works in favor of the understanding of the parts in the whole, to give meaning to the transitions in between elements, to the information that these share. At the same time, formulating the tone of the whole, expressing it through aesthetics. Although hermeneutics focuses on words it’s not only about the meaning of the same as entities, but there is a need also to take in account the details in between the text that allow following a specific narrative. Hermeneutics is considered a science because it has rules and these rules can be classified into an orderly system. It is considered an art because communication is flexible, and therefore a mechanical and rigid application of rules will sometimes distort the true meaning of a communication.

Pattern understanding.

Henry A. Virkler



The etymology of Hermeneutics brings us to the Greek root of interpretation, whilst linking the mythological god Hermes, the messenger, transmitting and interpreting the messages of Olympus to the human kind. Far from any divine message and more linked to grounded and natural parameters, interpreting is, somehow, what designer do. A pattern hermeneutics will, therefore, help to better contextualize and represent ideas, by helping on interpreting concepts as entities of bigger patterns. While Pattern serendipity focuses in the whole as an opportunity creator, hermeneutics focuses on the detail to define strong basis from where to build on top, a base that sets individual perspective and narrative in dialogue with the whole of the designed element. It helps to understand, integrate and reformulate in all levels the information given by being channeled through a patterned ideal. In nowadays Design paradigm there is a clear gap in the perception of the importance of aesthetic hermeneutics. As it’s been framed in early chapters, objects as Ultramundane (Be-

Open Structure, Grid, Thomas Lommee.

yond what is ordinary) cannot transmit an aesthetics interpretation. They are concealed with the standard given; aesthetics cannot properly define the status of actual everyday objects because there is no form and function balance in them. Aesthetics work in both directions, inwards challenging the previous status of the practitioner, outwards bringing new opportunities for appropriation. Working closely with a hermeneutic understanding will reinforce the individual and consequent aesthetics of a patterned Design.

the intrinsic familiarity in between the patterned design will allow a progressive lecture of the outcomes, they will tell both their story and history. Parts which are referential to their whole and others, like words, with different interpretations and meanings along different contexts and partners. Objects state the practitioner’s interpretation without standardization filters. Which beyond all interpretations is the one that will set trigger for re-appropriation. It is again about segregation, about formal familiarity, about the empty space, about the parts and the whole, it is all at once, it’s about the patterns that present a narrative. It’s about the narrative that is defined by its elements, inflexions and accents. Hermeneutics presents a more detail-conscious approach towards the design practice. Like the butterfly that sets a hurricane, the design details precede a design narrative. The sensitive dependency on individual, parts or initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a patterned system, like the design process, can result in large differences in a later state or design narrative.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

No design is ultimate no vision is either. This underlying truth of any science, as well as in design brings within a flourishing development. There is no truth or ultimate and there are only interpretations of such, which are translated into multiple valid narratives in a design perspective. By designing through a pattern ideal the dialogue in between narratives is a positive clash. By treating the parts and the whole under the focus, not only of a pattern, but also to hermeneutics parameters help to achieve a better contextualization. Objects become epitomes of a narrative, loosing their ties with the standardization and modularity proposed by the actual system. At the same time

Theo Janssen, on Strandbeest.


“ /Patterns and chaos Conclusions on the design process as a non-linear development. Where chaos begins, classical science stops. For as long as the world has had physicists inquiring into the laws of nature, it has suffered a special ignorance about disorder in the atmosphere, in the turbulent sea, in the fluctuations of wildlife populations, in the oscillations of the heart and the brain. The irregular side of nature, the discontinuous and erratic side---these have been puzzles to science, or worse, monstrosities. But in the 1970s a few scientists in the United States and Europe began to find a way through disorder. ... The insights that emerged led directly into the natural world the shapes of clouds, the paths of lightning , the microscopic intertwining of blood vessels, the galactic clustering of stars. James Gleick Making a new Science.

The design discipline has been promoted as a linear cause-consequence process, following the ideal of industrial, problem - solution, freezed ideal. Authors as Bruno Munari (“¿Como nacen los objetos?”), present this paradigm of a linear process that everytime narrows the spectrum by problem solving technique. Although ideally is a simple and understandable consequence of processing information, it lacks flexibility and adaptation in each step. By not considering the whole frame or other parts or faces, in the step by step linear conception, the design practicioner frames the project in an enclosed progression by deepening into a self produced frame, a direct and inamobible concequence of previous stages. “You see, mostly in technology what we do is to try to construct stuff, step by step, always making sure we can foresee what’s going to happen. That’s the traditional approach in engineering. But once we’ve seen what’s out there in the computational universe, we realize there’s another possibility: we can just mine things from the computational Pattern understanding.



Stephen Wolfram Imagining the future with a new kind of Science.

On the oder hand a pattern understanding pivotes around the chaos theory as a conception of the deisgn process and practice. An understanding that embraces all concepts explained in previous chapters. An ideal multidirectional pattern tension, where any part of the narrative arises as defining change of the whole. A multidirectional tension that develope a non linear process, in between all actors and the context. In a big prespective chaos theory is seen as uncontrolable for it overwhelming amount of information an variable required in the system. Not only uncontrolable but also unpredictable. Framing any design research will also involve a great number of information in several “shapes” and layers. Contextualizing the chaos theory inside the framework of any project will imediatly derive into two conclusions. Firstly the role of the design practitioner shouldn’t be to control the information, because by not being able to reach all of it’s extent the intent will fail its

purposes. In a second look can be concluded that the design practitioner can take advantage of the formal familiarity, serendipity and hermeneutics, as well as ratios and frameworks to irrigate all project by punctual defining factors. We can understand chaos as a consequence of an ordered progression. When the material, data, references or information are limited to a small amount that can be controled, we easily find an order in between them, they even might seem direcly linked and directioned. When the initial order is embedded with more imput, natural progression developes into a chaotic expression. Far from the actual encoded system where we don’t find chaos but complexity, the chaotic nature of a design project can be read while understanding the parameters that play a role on defining the same. Chaos will inevitably exist in a pattern structure that is set to develope. The fear to chaos is just the fear to the uncontroled, the fear of the designer then is not to the organitzation represented by a chaotic pattern but to the level of control that has to let go. Here again relay the breaking point with the actual system, where outcomes completely controlled are defining high levels of complexity for us to understand.

“Chaos breaks across the lines that separate scientific disciplines. Because it is a science of the global nature of systems, it has brought together thinkers from fields that had been widely separated. Chaos poses problems that defy accepted ways of working in science. It makes strong claims about the universal behavior of complexity. The first chaos theorists, the scientists who set the discipline in motion, shared certain sensibilities. They had an eye for pattern, especially pattern that appeared on different scales at the same time. They had a taste for randomness and complexity, for jagged edges and sudden leaps. Believers in chaos--and they sometimes call themselves believers, or converts, or evangelists--speculate about determinism and free will, about evolution, about the nature of conscious intelligence. They feel that they are turning back a trend in science toward reductionism, the analysis of systems in terms of their constituent parts: quarks, chromosomes, or neurons. They believe that they are looking for the whole.” James Gleick Making a new Science.

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

With a patterned the chaotic expression doesn’t relay in complexity but in control. Design practitioners loose control over the totatility of the project seeking to follow the patterns that will show the way. Complexity deals with the impossibility to understand, contrary to control, understanding creates adaptability, dialogue.

Embracing a patterned understanding in a design project seeks an embodiment of the imprefection (as those elements without control) as the narrative and empty space that will allow a natural adapted epitome of the project’s ideal.



Pattern understanding.

Bibliography & other media referenced.

1. Rober Lawlor Sacr ed Geometr y Phylosophy and practice. 1982

10. Sou Fujimoto Primiti ve Futur e 2008

2. Jean Baudrillard The system of objects. 1968

11. Brian Cox W hy Does E=mc²? , And W hy Should We Car e? 2009

3. Ger r y Beegan, Paul Atkinson Pr of essionalism, Amateurism and the boundaries of Design Jour nal of Design Histor y Vol. 21 No. 4. 2008

12. W illiam A. Dembski The Design Re volution: Answ ering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design 2004

4. Hilde Bouchez Pimp your Home: Or why design cannot r emain exclusi ve. The Design Jour nal, Volume 15, Number 4. 2012

13. Br uno Latour “Netw orks, Societies, Spher es: Reflections of an Actor-netw ork theorist” Annenber g School for Communication and Jour nalism Los Angeles 2010

5. Richard Feynman The Pleasur e of Finding Things Out Video documentar y, 1981

14. Lars Spuybr oek The Sympathy of Things: R uskin and the Ecolog y of Design 2011

6. Le v Manovich Remixing and Remixability. 2005 7. Mark Buchanan The social Atom: W hy the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You 2007

9. Jack Ker ouac, The Por table Jack Ker ouac 1996

16. Fritjof Capra The Tao of Physics, On Quantum Theor y 1975 17. Thomas Hobbes Le viathan 1651 18. Gerald Gaus Egoism, Altr uism, and Our Cooperati ve Social Order.

20. R ussell A. Hulse The Discover y of the binar Pulsar Nobel Lectur e, December 8, 1993 21. Rober t Br esson Supplément Lettr es et Ar ts à Recher che et Débats no. 15, 1951. 22. Henr y A. Virkler Her meneutics 1981 23. Ste phen Wolfram Imagining the futur e with a new kind of Science 2004 24. James Gleick Chaos: Making a new Science. 1988 25. Justin mcGuirk Design Academ y Eindhoven Sour ce lectur e 2014 26. Donald Nor man Emotional Design 2004

Thesis, Social Design Master. DAE

8. Cristopher Alexander A Patter n Language; owns, Buildings, Constr uction (Center for Envir onmental Str uctur e) 1977

15. Da vid Bohm W holeness and the Implicate Order 1980

19. Pe pa Gisber t Aguilar Decr ecimiento: camino hacia la sostenibilidad 2008