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  • Thin and thick shapes

    Complexity is felt with many thin, round shaped parts. Thick shapes feel warmer than thin ones and will appear more in a colour palette with a large lightness contrast. A thick shape is placed rather structured in a sober composition. Thick correlates strongly with large, thin with small. (Michiels, 2016)

  • Square versus rounded

    Square/rounded has an important influence on the function of the size of an angle. Rounded corners are experienced more cheerfully, while straight angles are perceived as more serious (Poffenberger en Barrows, 1924). Round and square are also related to activation. Roundness in parts of utensils or interfaces can indicate a button, where activation is needed. Sharp roundness can therefore trigger alertness and induce action.

  • Sharp versus blunt

    The size of an angle can be determined by measuring the angle that two lines make with each other. This angle can be expressed in both degrees and radiants. The larger the angle, the more blunt it is. And conversely, the smaller the angle between two lines, the sharper.

    The emotional effect of sharp corners differs according to the application. When it comes to utensils, sharp corners can be perceived as dangerous, they can puncture or cut.

    Blunt/sharp is classified as a HEIGHT dimension parameter because a shape with blunt lines comes often with a thick shape, while sharpness appears most of the time in a thin shape. Compare the thick/thin parameter.

    (Inez Michiels, DSD, 2021)

  • im-balanced lines

    An oblique line indicates an unstable situation, which causes unrest. Objects are found calmer, stronger and more controlled with more balance in the image and more restless, unstable and uncontrolled with an increasing degree of imbalance in the image (Van Rompay et al., 2005).

  • Nakedness and sexual preference

    It is true that one sex tends to be more naked than the other, and Darwin made use of this in his own sexual selection theory of the loss of human hair. He supposed that ancestral males chose females rather than the other way around as is normal in the animal kingdom, and that they preferred hairless females. His faith in sexual selection is reinforced by the observation that in all races, however hairy or however hairless, the woman tend to be less hairy than the men. Darwin believed that ancestral men found hairy women unattractive. Generations of men chose the most naked (smooth) women as mates. (Dawkins, 2004).

  • Left and right in the story of evolution

    (About the primaeval worm, our ancestor of 590 million years ago.) Put our front-rear asymmetry together with our dorsal-ventral asymmetry and we have automatically defined a left side and a right side. But unlike the other two axes, we find no general reason to distinguish the left side from the right side: no reason why they should be anything other than mirror images. Danger is not more likely to threaten from the left or the right side, though it may well be more likely above or below. The prettiest real life example (of an exception) I can think of is the wonkey-eyed jewel squid of Australian waters, whose left eye is much larger than its right. It swims at a 45-degree angle, with the larger, telescopic left eye looking upwards for food, while the smaller right eye looks below for predators. (other exceptions: the wrybill, the fiddler crabs). Trilobite fossils often display bite marks, indicating narrow escapes from predators. The fascinating thing is that about 70 per cent of these bite marks are on the right-hand side. Either trilobites had an asymmetrical awareness of predators, like the wonky eyed jewel squid, or their predators had handedness in their attack strategy. But those are exceptions, mentioned for their curiosity value and to make a revealing contrast with the symmetrical world of our primitive worm and its descendants. Our crawling archetype has a left and a right side which are mirror images of each other. (Dawkins, 2004)

  • ‘Angulated’ and colour in Germany

    Angulated: grey 18%, black 18%, silver 15%, ….
    Heller (1989)

  • Past and future in shape

    Angularity, as with a square stone, is a characteristic of the past versus roundness, the wheel, as a symbol of the future.

    The modernist architecture of the last century (1930-1960) was an architectural movement or architectural style based upon a functionalist idea with an embrace of minimalism and a rejection of ornament. The use of round shapes was a style characteristic. It was a radical break with the past and a view to the future.

    Bestand:De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill.jpg

    De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. 1935, Architect/Designer: Mendelsohn & Chermayeff. Source:

    In images depicting the future, futuristic planes etc. the artists show a preference for round shapes.

    Artist Tim Hildebrandt painted the rounded buildings of his future city yellow. Underneath the future he draws the angular past in a roman temple architecture. The man in the foreground points to the right, where the future lies.

    (Michiels, I. editorial)

  • Direction of impressionist and expressionist paintings

    Research into the orientation of Impressionist or Expressionist paintings shows that expressionism, with mainly portraits and still lives as the subject, has a majority of vertical paintings. While impressionism, with landscapes or outer views as an important subject, counts the most horizontal paintings. Verticality has deeper subjects than horizontal. “They sought around with the eye and not in the mysterious depths of the mind.” Gauguin, about the superficial representation of reality among the Impressionists.
    (Alpaerts, 1980)