Saul Bass, Academy Award winning designer, director and artist, defined design as: “thinking made visual.” While this is only one of many definitions of the concept of design, it is one of my favorites. The aesthetics and remediation of design is one of the most useful and evolved processes in the history of the world. I realize that is a big claim, but through this paper, my hope is I will be able to convince you of the same belief. Design defines and continuously changes how we engage with content. The most simple example of this is “the book.” We now engage with “the book” through digital and collaborative ways.
E-Readers are gerat ways to help the enviroment, the ability carry hundreds of books at once, and learn. But why do we not just scroll in iBooks, like we do when browsing the Internet? We actually use all of our senses when we read, our smell and sight are both super sensitive when we really get into a book, according to the BBC. And our hearing is tuned out if we are concentrating on reading something. We are social creatures who always want to be connected to something or someone, being able to touch a book’s spine, turn its old yellowed pages, and smell that old book smell while reading is something that many people cherish. While Apple has yet to invent a way to make the iPad give off smells ( I am sure they are working on it.) they have mastered the sense of touch. Our ability to touch and feel something is inherently human, we touch to explore, to connect, to love, and to live.
The application of iBooks, for the original tablet, the iPad, is one of the most revolutionary and useful tools today. With iBooks, a person is able to read for pleasure or learning, choosing from over 2 million ebook titles that cover everything from Green Eggs and Ham to War and Peace. They even carry over two-hundred thousand e-textbooks from preschool to university level. iBooks has helped forge new territory in education and reading alike, from iBooks other companies have spawned their own e-reading tablets: The Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook are just two of the most popular. What is brilliant about iBooks is the feeling the design gives you while reading. One is able highlight, zoom, and even change book fonts for easier reading, although those are all useful tools the most beloved feature of iBooks is the ability to turn the page. But why is the ability to turn the page, like an old fashioned normal book so loved?
The theory of the aesthetics has been around for centuries and has been studied by countless philosophers, artists and scientists. The very simple definition of aesthetics is the preference or taste of something. Basically if a person likes or dislikes something and what that emotion is based on. Do you love Van Gogh's Starry Night? Why? Because it is aesthetically pleasing to you. Do you dislike the graffiti artist's Banksy's art work around Paris? Because it is aesthetically displeasing to you. Aesthetics remediate and evolve over time and place, because it is a personal feeling, many might not agree with your aesthetic analysis.
William Blake changed the game though when he created his own version of the illuminated manuscript with The Marriage of Heaven & Hell. William Blake authored, published, and designed the book. He designed his own illustrations and font styles for each copper plate that was used for each “page” of the book. The evolution of the techniques used to create and publish The Marriage of Heaven & Hell are still being used and evolved today.
Textbooks are expensive, no matter if you buy them new or used, or split the cost with a friend. Online college textbooks are still expensive, but you can buy an ebook much cheaper than a hardbound, freshly printed book, and you don’t have to pay shipping. More and more college students are turning to iBooks to save their wallet, and it turns out, so our school systems.
There are certain design principles I believe translate and evolve no matter the medium. I would suggest that in fact all principles of design, if used correctly, can be translated and used no matter the medium of the product. Aesthetic beauty is beautiful no matter the form in which one sees the product itself.
The remediation of the book, the foundation of communication and learning is a journey that will never be complete. There will always be someone who thinks that can improve upon it, just as Blake did, just as Apple is doing, the remediation of the aesthetics of design is forever changing. Design is in itself is a cornerstone of change. A reminder that change is always and will always be present throughout time. No matter how wonderful one generation of people believe their invention is, the next will always believe they can improve upon it. That is the very essence of evolution and humanity.