- Series: Harvard Paperbacks
- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; Underlining edition (October 24, 1964)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674627512
- ISBN-13: 978-0674627512
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Notes on the Synthesis of Form (Harvard Paperbacks) Underlining Edition
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Top customer reviews
I've designed little tools, rooms, houses, musical instruments and gigantic computer networks. It's scary.
There are virtually no books on the joys and angst of the design thought process, so this book is priceless. Peripherally related are Malraux's "Voices of Silence" and Jacques Maritain's "Creative Intuition In Art And Poetry", both about thought processes/aesthetics across multiple disciplines.. Don Norman's "The psychology Of Everyday Things" is a wonderful exploration of the gut-level design disasters we all deal with all the time. Bottom line: IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.
Part 2 (chapter 6, page 73) is a highly structured "program" for design. I found this section of the book much less compelling, and I'm not sure how it necessarily falls out from Part 1. For me, Alexander's biggest insight is that a good design process involves iterative periods of change and stasis - specifically, designing by modifying single (or small numbers of) factors individually and allowing the design to reach "equilibrium" before making additional changes. From this standpoint, designing a whole village at the beginning (as is started in appendix I) may not ever be a good design approach - even with Alexander's "program"
While many wring their hands about this, Alexander breaks the problem down, organizes it and then provides a framework for design that is relatively design neutral. That is a feat in deed.
By thinking about how one structures a problem space and the bias that creates -- Alexander give the practioner a powerful tool for setting up the design process and scope. He then goes on to discuss the design process and he makes important distinctions between concious and unconcious design.
Notes on Synthesis and Form are the foundation for Alexander's work on design patterns. This is the must read book before spending time on these other works.
For the practioner, this book provides a powerful and applicable framework for addressing problems in multiple disciplines.
Unless that is what you are looking for, pass on this book. Unfortunately, I was forced to give this two stars due to the way it is presented on Amazon. If you are interested in highly abstract (as in analysis, not art) and theoretical design, then ignore my rating.