organic forms and design

I’m interested in your thoughts on the following concept: Is it possible that as human beings, we respond not only to nature, plants and flowers in and of themselves, but also to the basic forms, chaotic “patterns” and abstract aesthetics of organic forms (namely, plants.) I am working on a number of products related to this concept in an attempt to articulate this theory. I would love some basic responses to this suggestion that it is not plant life, in and of itself, that inspires us to potentially feel happier and “more human” (perhaps) but rather the FORMS that we perceive in both actual nature and in other places (such as textile design, art, graphic design, etc.) that can be inspiring. All responese are welcome.

People have been discussing this here already. Even though this line of inquiry exists and is taken seriously by some, it still feels dubious to me.

While it is human to try to find connections between things, to say nothing of the continuing quest for over-arching explanations of reality, the designer search for “universal” or “archetypal” forms always seems to smell like it is about to turn into something hollow and simplistic - e.g. a handy “tool” for form-making and form-evaluation for the business professional on the go or some such crap. There is more to it than this and most people with any studio experience know it.

But I find that your question has an assumption in it that I would question: Are forms and our perception of them really tied all that firmly to our emotions at all? I ask only becasue emotions are kind of a big deal and are likely studied fairly extensively in other fields namely, psychology and perhaps theatre.

Maybe one starting point is to try to understand what emotions are from some other perspective than design and form. Once you do, then see if design and form have anything to do with them.

The form of a flower does not stir the emotions nearly as much without the smell of the garden to accompany it.

Even a seashell (when you get close) smells of salt and sounds like the sea.
Thats stirs emotion in my opinion.

I don’t think that the form itself brings emotion, but rather that association the form brings. For example, people put plastic flowers in their homes all the time. They don’t smell, don’t grow, and only resemble the real plant in form and color. Yet people like the plants because of the association they bring with them.

You can apply this to more abstract shapes as well, since people always associate the object in front of them with memories from the past. (this is how humans understand the world around them without researching every single object they see. It’s the reason we form stereotypes, and assume things. It’s efficient, and contrary to popular belief our assumtions, archetypes, and stereotypes work most of the time, that’s why we all use them) Soft forms bring back memories of things like a mothers bosom, or a soft pillow. Sharp objects bring back the association of pain.

Unfortunetely, it’s not as simple as this, since objects often have more than one adjective tied to them, and to determine which aspect of the object people will resonate with is at best just a guess. (unless the object has one overwhelming quality which stamps out all other associations)

Once you get out of the most basic products and forms, i think you’ll find it’s hard to determine which association people will make to your new design, since everyone has different past experiences to draw from, and may connect your object to unexpected memories.

so…if you want to imply ‘natural forms can be inspiring’ your fine.
By the time Gestalt research wrapped up in the 70’s, a rigorous science of beauty was proven to be impossible.

everything is relative to everything else.

that said, i do think that we on some level do respond to form, relatively.

the response to something pointy is usually quite different to something not pointy. that response can also change based on various situations, past experience, circumstances at the time, and other variables.

a christmas tree for most people brings a positive response despite being pointy, but not because of the form, mostly because of the memories associated with them, and also because of the scent, decorations, and lights.

look into geons and gestalt theory and see what you think.