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I was amazed when I originally saw Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames. 

Although I saw the film in design school nearly a decade ago, it was originally made in 1977 and takes a look at the relative scale of things.  Not only was the short film fascinating to watch, it introduced me to the idea of “micro” (extremely small) and “macro” (very large).  Watching this film reinforced the idea that design should not only be about “itself” – that it should have some relation to things as small as its details and as large as its site.  As the film suggests, these relationships ripple inward and outward, inevitabley making a string of connections that are understood as they relate to each other (micro) and then, outwardly, in its larger context (macro).  This rigorous process oftentimes strengthens a design – making it less “flat”.  While a client may not know all of your ‘powers of ten’, so to speak, being able to create a design that has strong relationships in the large and the small, make a case for good design.  Here are a few examples of designs that I feel engage the full spectrum of the design scale, either in its conceptual planning or its physical presence:


Vietman Veterans Memorial: The strength of this design is in its relationship to its site (macro) and to the individual (micro), as well as the existence of a powerful narrative.


The “Womb” Chair by Saarinen: This conceputal idea behind this chair was to “wrap” around a person, as a womb does during a babies early development. Without knowing the narrative, the chair is still a classic – in its constrcution, design and use.


A wheel: functional in its shape and use, the wheel originated to advance transportation. Its use has expanded, but the fuction remains the same… to more forward!

What important ideas or concepts did the iconic film Powers of Ten introduce to you?