Order vs Chaos

How can Order Vs Chaos be visualised?

2017
Graphic DesignArt DirectionArchitecture
THE BRIEF

I was tasked with two objectives:
- To design an architectural cohesive system called Order Vs Chaos
- To design a architectural book cover for called Order Vs Chaos
CONTEXT

Congestion would seem to be a key indicator of a city thriving, yet it’s not only difficult to define and measure. Having an understanding of how it works, what makes a city, whether there any good or bad planned cities if not, do unplanned cities work better?

Based on principles developed by some of the eminent thinkers of past and present. The design attempts to conclude the principles of Order Vs Chaos.
PROCESS

My methodology consists of primary and secondary research, for this I read the book, visited galleries and conducted interviews. With deadlines to meet, I moved quickly and began conceptual design sprints. I constantly sketched out ideas whilst reading the book and each sprint was usually around four days. We set daily goals to keep our focus and stay on track, examining the words associated and with Order and Chaos and exploring ideas for further development. We met at the end of each sprint to review; not to make any big decisions at first but rather to share our ideas and walk through each other’s thought process.

To get started I used a mind-map to gather the information and references from the writer. I gave his book a complete read. It played a good role in me understanding it from an architectural perspective.
Order Vs Chaos mind map
RESEARCH
In the book, I took more into consideration that Koolhaas’ Lagos development is a fine example to further explore this question, breaking the connection between the question of the organised city; or unorganized city. The design concepts first delves into the so called “chaotic” city Lagos with Rem Koolhaas. Nigeria is arguably the worst run of the world’s seven most populated countries. Despite earning hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue over the past decade, to have the second-most destitute people in the world after India. But its largest city, Lagos, which until recently was known as one of the world’s most difficult cities to govern, seems to have turned a corner. Looking at the economic, social, physical aspects in the city and what is behind the growth of Lagos. Is the un-planning of the city the reason why it seems to be in chaos? I have observed that this topic is an essential step towards delivering a discussion on whether Lagos is chaotic or not. In exact terms without vagueness, Lagos arouses curiosity compared to other cities, it’s remarkable location allows one to discover the standard in terms of relations between varied areas, in relation to principles of an organisation, rather than in terms of distinctive characteristics.
Rem Koolhaas and Edgar Cleijne. Lagos (2000)
This image is extracted from the collective book Mutations. See Koolhaas and al. Op cit., 2000
Koolhaas and van der Haak. Lagos wide and close (2006)
Le Corbusier is one of the pioneers who introduced the idea of living a planned city, an example of this is Chandigarh, India. Forcing people to live in a predetermined environment. Taking into account changing demographics and life styles is essential for successful city planning.

This design concepts will explore how Rem Koolhaas and Le Corbusier perceive the ideas of planned and unplanned Cities and how their perceptions became principles to city planning. Who is on the right side? The research will then try to connect these principles of city planning by superimposing them upon todays master planned cities.
VISIT TO GALLERIES

I visited the White Cube exbition 'Fragments' by Ibrahim Mahama. Mahama is known for his touching on themes like decay and collapse whislt exploring systems of capital and production after Ghana being newly independent. He used large-scale installations incorporating jute sacks previously used to transport cocoa beans and charcoal, which are stitched together and draped over architectural structures. 
I also visited Do Ho Suh exhibtion at the Victoria Miro gallery. He is fascinated with the linking spaces through which the body travels by using translucent fabrics sculptures.

‘The work is related to my long-held desire to blur the boundaries of geographical distance,’ - Do Ho Suh
IDEATION
SURVEY

To get the design started, I started with the research phase, I made a survey that was shared online and a What's App group. I got 45 responders. I started the survey with screener question, asking people whether they had been to Lagos or India. This question helped us excludes the 10% of the responders who did not match our target.
INTERVIEWS

I interviewed 10 people and conducted tasks from different backgrounds to give their insight on both the ideology of Order Vs Chaos from a visual perspective.
During a phone call with one of the interviewee, Peter Soetan. I noticed he and previous interviewees stated phrases and terms synonymous to Order than Chaos and he replied "Maybe order is what people crave"

THE PLAN IS A DICTATOR - Summaries from the book

The very first of Le Corbusier's design principles were his dictum that "The Plan is a Dictator."  It would be difficult to exaggerate the emphasis that Le Corbusier placed on making an entire city bend to one single, rational plan. He repeatedly contrasted traditional cities with the city of the future, which would be consciously formulated from start to finish by one designer. 

Le Corbusier believed "skyscrapers are the brain of the city, the brain of the whole country. They embody the work of elaboration and command on which all activities depend. Everything is concentrated there: the tools that conquer time and space; communication technologies and financial organisations." He believed it issues commands and the authoritarianism at work in this modernist view his love of the order of a factory. In a factory, he effused, there is a hierarchical scale. Workers accept it so as to manage themselves like a colony of worker-bees: order, regularity, punctuality, justice, and partialism. The urban planner is to the design and construction of the city as the engineer is to the design and construction of the factory; a single brain directs both. And the centralized hierarchy doesn't stop there. The city is the brain of the whole society. The great city commands everything: peace, war, and work.

Le Corbusier always looked at the city plan in terms of a single cohesive monumental composition - with major axes linking the focal points of the city. The emphasis on visual cohesion(see image below) was so important to intergrate into the concept of the book cover.
The emphasis on visual cohesion between the various city components was an essential feature of his somewhat rigid grid iron plan. (Illustrations 2, 3, 4) (Kalia, 1987)
DEFINING A COHESIVE SYSTEM

To design a cohesive solution, I looked at the design work of Craig Ward as I felt he conveys the visual synonyms of Order and Chaos. 
Looking more into at Ibrahim Mahama's bureaucratic and archival information, further into Russian Constructivism and International Typographic Style, I explored how geometric shapes could expand and be constructed as a cohesive visual system. I created shapes by forming a rectangular bars cutting off the typography to communicate a glitch in the arrangement of the bars. After exploring several routes, I sat down with the writer and honed down decisions, and began to craft the best choice. We went through many iterations to ensure our final concept would convey the qualities of Order Vs Chaos.
To begin with, a definition of Geometry is the means created by ourselves, whereby we perceive the external world and express the world within us. Others may also describe Geometry as the foundation; a material basis on which we build those symbols, which represent us to perfection and divine.

.... The age wherein we live is principally a geometrical one; all its ideas are oriented in the direction of geometry - Chandigarh
TYPOGRAPHY

While working on the cohesive system, I began exploring typefaces. I looked at typefaces that should be legible and solid. I looked at a lot fonts particularly Akzidenz Grotesk, Frutiger, and Futura, we thought Helvetica was best to use because of modernist, cleanliness, readability, objectivity, ability to stand on its own and works very well with architecture and photography both currently and historically.
COLOUR PALETTE
Due to the idea of Order Vs Chaos, I thought the colour black is to be taken seriously. It represents authority, order, power, luxury, sophistication and exclusivity on one hand; and chaos, death, evil and mystery on the other. From formality to mourning to power, black is bold, classic and not to be fooled with whilst the white offer the opposite. The colour palette allows the artwork on a matte paper cover to be functional and convey the representation and contrasts of Order Vs Chaos. 

To design a more cohesive solution, I looked at the photography of Ope Odueyungbo as I felt he conveys the visual colours of Order and Chaos in his work.
Pictures of Lagos, Nigeria
The order of the colours is shown in size and order
The reader's feedback we had collected on the book cover samples showed us we are on the right track but readers wanted Order Vs Chaos to show more clarity and something more. I decided to design a more alluring but simpler text by using juxtaposition and oxymorons to a more powerful effect. Going back to the Order Vs Chaos terms provided by the interviewees. I came to a visual conclusion:

ORDER = CHAOS

CHAOS = ORDER

THE RESULT
After intensive iterations on the oxymorons and juxtapositions of Order Vs Chaos. The writer, interviewees and I felt this idea provided the best way to portray Order Vs Chaos from an architectural viewpoint. We all felt the geometric shapes, Helvetica Neue font, glitch effect, oxymorons and chaotic colours work really well together and at the same time allows to contract and expand making it a defined cohesive system.
My take away from this project describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they relate to one another. It makes me think about other dualities such as lightness vs darkness, fire and water, adding via subtracting, expanding and contracting and others. 

Order needs balance, symmetry and repetition, order is one of the reasons why so many people love Paris. Nobody likes disorganisation, its worrying, it’s not advisable when everything is jumbled up randomly. We generally have an itch to straighten things out and when we can’t it’s frustrating. Making use feel chaotic! The same urge is there when we look at cities. Often it’s not skyscrapers we mind in the cities, its skyscrapers that have been dumped without planning; like they are in London. 

However, we have to keep something else in mind; excessive order can be just as much of a problem. Too much order can be ridged and alien, so the ideal we seek is variety and order. But it seems like there cannot be Order without an hint of chaos.

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