Notes from the Field: Better Together

July 4, 2011

By Cheryl Katz

Similar things look great in a group. Take the humble gymslip. A sleeveless tunic, once part of a school uniform, it was never particularly attractive. But when seen as part of a group, as in this class photo, it takes on a certain charm.

Likewise a naval boat docking, with sailors disembarking in groups of six or eight, all in freshly pressed white pants and white shirts. Or nuns. Nuns look great in a group.

Uniforms are designed with intention and meant to communicate that intention to the viewer. When seen in a group the potency of the message is amplified. This same principle can be applied to interiors. The repetition of similar, humble objects elevates them, while helping to heighten their meaning.

At the corporate offices of an international travel office, everyday interoffice memos are repurposed as floor tiles. While looking a whole lot more interesting than the one lone directive sitting on a desk, the repetitive nature of the memos on the floor is also a clear reminder of the vast amount of information produced on a daily basis.

In the lobby of the same office, the company’s history is told on a series of painted panels; the repetition of panels create a visual pattern as interesting and as informative (time marching forward) as the text itself.

At our own office, we display like things together as a signal that we are keeping chaos at bay. Whether a wall of paint palettes for various projects, stacks of magazines, or rolls of drawings, the rhythmic pattern of repetition conveys a sense of order, real or imagined.

Used as a purely decorative device, this group of drawings is from a student notebook. Each of the drawings was placed in a plastic job holder–usually seen in factories–to adorn the walls of this Nantucket dining room, proving that the sum is greater than its parts. Things really do look great in a group.

To see more on grouped displays, check out Karin Lidbeck Brent’s previous blog post on the subject, Gorgeous Groupings.

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