DESIGN RULES: YES or NO?*

Updated: May 26


"Rules are mostly made to be broken, and are too often for the lazy to hide behind" said General of Army Douglass MacArthur, and I find it hard to disagree with authoritative individuals in uniform.


That being said, rules help simplify things and keep everything and everyone in order.

The mere existence of rules is reassuring. It takes off the burden of autonomous thinking. Serious decisions have already been made, leaving us the freedom to act within their boundaries.

It's like being a kid again, restricted and yet so liberated.


I guess that's what stands behind articles titled under the alluring format of "X Best Design Tips for a Perfect [fill in the gap]". It's the assurance of an effortless success if following a few simple guidelines; the promise of a failure-free process, in theory, at least.


Fear from failure is another great motivator. Titles such as "X design mistakes you've probably done" will make you question every design choice you've ever made, leading to the inevitable realization that everything around you is a disastrous mistake, and therefor you should probably burn in all down and start from scratch. Preferably by clicking the affiliated links and making a purchase.


And just when you thought you've figured it out, here comes another article that shuffles all cards, calling you to take those rules and disregard them completely, like this article in Apartment Therapy: The Small Space Rules Designers Wish You Would Break.


Well, my friends, my weekly ranting calls you to take these "tips to follow", "mistakes to fix" and "rules to break" into perspective, and go with your (professional designer) gut feeling.

Imagine yourself a world in which everyone had followed the nonexistent "design rules", what a dull world would that be.


And now, since it has been 310 words from the last (and first) image, it's time for some photos of people who follow no rules but themselves'.

Get inspired! Don't imitate, innovate! But also prepare yourself to undo that genius innovation of yours, in case it's not that genius after all. Just saying.


Above is a two-family home in Tokyo by Nendo. The two households are partially separated by a stairway-like structure that encloses functional elements, and penetrates from the yard into the building.


Above is a typical Haussmanian Parisian Appartment reinvented by Toledano+Architects. The light wooden element allows to preserve all the existing historical elements while adding the space new contemporary uses.


Berry Dijkstra is an interior curator, who is also known as the "king of stacking". His furniture and decor are always stacked and piled into interesting arrangements, some neatly balanced and others heart-stoppingly askew.


*No - that's my personal opinion to the way-above question, in case you've wondered.

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Real Design For Real People

© 2020 by Elinor Gefen-Rotstein

Greater Boston Area