BUILDING BLOCK dimensional to 8-level


A cheerful circle and a serious square

When roundness is connected to symmetry as seen in a circle, it has a meaning in the depth dimension and perceived as cheerful and pleasant. While straight corners are perceived as more serious (Poffenberger en Barrows, 1924). Lakoff and Johnson (1999) saw that there are many proverbs and sayings that have to do with form characteristics and emotions. Round: regulated, completed, ready. (Michiels, I. editorial)

Angular and curved lines connected to adjectives.

“In a 1921 study conducted by the Swedish psychologist Helge Lundholm, subjects were asked to draw lines representing a set of emotional adjectives. While angular lines were used to depict adjectives like hard, harsh and cruel, curved lines were the popular choice for adjectives like gentle, quiet and mild. Over the years, other studies trying to associate feelings with types of lines have corroborated Lundholm’s findings.

Typography has been the target of a similar analysis. A study conducted in 1968 by psychologists Albert Kastl and Irvin Child indicated that people associate positive qualities like ‘sprightly’, ‘sparkling’, ‘dreamy’, and ‘soaring’ with curved, light, and possibly sans-serif typefaces. This could in part explain, to many graphic designers’ frustration, the wide-ranging popularity of the Comic Sans MS typeface.”

Lima, M. (2017)


EdenRed is a French company that supplies consumer vouchers to companies.. Edenred is the inventor of Ticket Restaurant, created in 1962. The reference to the garden of Eden (paradise), the connection with good food, consumption, the crimson red, all fit under the same code of red-6 (code brown-on-green, level-64). Which contains related words such as: consume, greedy, gourmandise, delight, for free, paradise. The spherical shape is a primary shape that is classified under code primary red (level-8). Which is a construction of dimensional words such as: round, convex, rich.
The photo shows an advertising campaign “You can have your lunch here” in the central station of Antwerp (Belgium).
(Inez Michiels, DSD 2021)

Advertising campaign “You can have your lunch here” in the central station of Antwerp (Belgium). Photo credit Inez Michiels
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)

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.