Designer Rules – Parshat Mishpatim
“And these are the statutes that you shall place before you,” (Shmot 21:1). The parsha opens with a list of laws regarding monetary issues; laws of bein odom lachaveiro (between man and his fellow man); laws of damages; social justice, etc. International and federal laws are created for the purpose of structuring society, safeguarding individuals, and designing the ethics by which all live. Torah laws have the additional element of drawing one into the spiritual dimension upon which the world is built. Mishpatim, thus, are rules and guidelines drawn from profound understanding of what benefits society at large, and these have far-reaching effects and ramifications.
Just as mishpatim are rules that structure and order society; design is essentially the rules for arranging aspects in their optimal order and shape. Charles Eames defined, “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.”
Many designers adhere to specific guide rules that they choose as inspiration. These are rules born throughout years or even decades of creative effort which accompany them through every project and imbue their unique style into the final product design. This is true as well for many types of people, ranging from businessmen to doctors, therapists to teachers, parents and anyone who looks closely at life with the goal of putting it all in order!
I’ll have it gift-wrapped, please
In honor of my birthday, I thought I’d utilize the space in this post to give you all a little gift. My birthday gift to you!
Today, I’ll gladly share with you some of the rules that I’ve accumulated over the years since entering the field of design. Some of these rules are personal mottos that I’ve borrowed from colleagues, and others were formulated by non-designers, but illuminate a point in design. The final group is just a compilation of inspirational, heartwarming lines that carry a person far…
“Tell me what’s hanging on your fridge, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
If there’s a line that’s ever appealed to you or inspired you, you might be one of many who cut it out and stick it on your fridge with magnets. You can also get it as a ready made magnet… more detailes at the end of the post. (Side point: A fridge no longer functions uniquely for the purpose it was created—to store dairy, cooked food, fresh fruit and vegetables at a cool temperature. Today, it’s become a comfort zone that we open at least a million times day in the search to satisfy ourselves and find consolation and happiness. And to double check that nothing yummy was born there in the past hour!) And so, even though we never intended it to be, a fridge could easily function as a household billboard!
The rules of design:
Rules about perspective in design:
A fabulous saying coined by poet Robert Downing and adopted by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in his minimalistic approach in design. This popular slogan has been emblazoned across albums and advertisements since 1855! I’m a big believer in the Less is More rule in design, and it’s often discernible in my personal style which features neat, clean lines unencumbered by many details and accentuates every element in the room. One large picture on the wall is enough to draw attention, and one striking accent goes a long way in home décor. This rule also pithily encompasses the global concept that one should make do with a little less in order to feel that we have more… The above expresses itself in the daily ordeal of getting dressed. Sometimes, I can stand in front of a closet exploding with so many outfits that I don’t even know what I own and think to myself—and this time it’s really true!—that I’ve got nothing to wear! Really, I’d be better off with several outfits that I like to wear and compliment my appearance.
Rules of courage and realizing potential:
Our spiritual leaders share wisdom with us:
This verse was culled from the words of King David, and it’s something that I strive to reflect upon and even state aloud every time I begin a new project. It reminds me to do my very best, but that ultimately, there is a Master of the world Who will decide if I my plans succeed. In two words, it’s all about siyata dishmaya—Divine Providence!
“‘For the end of the action was in the original thought, meaning that when a person wants to do something like build a house, he must visualize in the beginning how the picture of his house will appear.” – Likutei Moharan Vol 1 Ch. 6
On change and renewal:
“The architecture of the universe never repeats itself; every day, it is an entirely new creation.” – Rabbi Nachman of Breslev
“The old will be renewed, and the new will be sanctified.” – Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohein Kook. There is a moment in which one must refresh oneself and search for something inside the existing old. And on the other hand, new things must be infused with a little soul. Incidentally, this is one of my personal favorites.
The Torah also teaches, “Old before the new you shall remove” (Vayikra 26:10). This rule differs slightly from the previous ones, suiting an occasion when the old has become irrelevant and it is time to say goodbye and move on to bigger and better things.
As a fan of author Shai Agnon, I can’t help but sign off this post with two of his inspiring statements that relate to the concepts of Home and Place. The first line is excerpted from his book Yamim Nora’im.
“And it seemed to me that the land on which I walked, and the streets though which I passed, and all the world itself was only a corridor to this house.”
The second is a passage that exhilarates me each time anew, stirring in me heady tastes and aromas, and an image of ultimate design:
“Every drink loves its place. Wine loves a beautiful ball room and sparkling chandeliers… Tea loves grayish-yellowish walls and a low ceiling… Cocoa loves a tablecloth embroidered with roses and flowers and slices of cake beside it… Beer loves the old, gloomy tavern and plain oak tables without tablecloths… Similarly, every drink loves its place, and best of all is the coffee which needs a special place named after it. Anyone who buys a cup of coffee goes to a coffeehouse in order to refresh his energies.” (Shira p. 22, Shokan Publishing).
Personally, I’m no coffee lover, but the aroma rising from this passage is enough to make me put up the kettle!
If you’ve got any special lines or mottos that speak to you and guide your personal style, I’d be glad to add them to my list.
And… before signing off, I’d like to give you the gift I promised. Every one of you (if living in Israel) is invited to choose two of your favorite lines from the collection, and I’ll send them to you in the mail printed on a magnet! All you’ve got to do is click here for the Mishpatim Birthday Special and choose the two magnets that you like best. Then, write your name and details, and they’re on the way to do! Birthday special ends on Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Adar/February 19, 2015. Please send in your replies and share with friends so They can enjoy as well.