Perec and procedural design

With the “Zwijgen is geen optie” (Silence is not an option) website, I’ve always been aiming for a design that could evolve over time rather than having to redesign every few years. Just like the timelessness of the content we produce and our signature monochrome film editing, the foundation of our design should have a great sense of slowness and continuity.

Gerard Leysen took that principle and came up with knots and ropes as reusable, changeable yet very recognisable design elements and I still think it works beautifully.

It also made for a beautiful pin for our Patrons to wear:

A Patron of Zwijgen is geen optie with the pin designed by Gerard Leysen

We’re now in the process of looking for an online UX/designer to work with for our website.

That means rising up to the challenge and searching for ways to communicate my layman design feelings to professionals, hoping we’ll find common ground. This Georges Perec quote I found in Letterform Variations comes pretty close in articulating my thoughts:

When asked to justify his playfully formal attitude to writing, Perec’s reply provided a useful outline of the powerful functionality and beauty of systematic processes in generating all kinds of creative work. There are two ways of getting water, he wrote. You can go to the spring and bring it back in buckets, or you can lay down pipework and pumps to make it play before your eyes. It’s the same water either way.

Nigel Cottier in Letterform Variations

With procedural games – like Minecraft or No Man’s Sky, where the world you’re playing in is generated on-the-fly – I found another place where code and design come together rather awe-inspiringly:

I guess my love for this these ever-evolving, never-finished, ungraspable yet in their core rigidly defined designs can be brought back to the first time I ever saw an Escher work, over 25 years ago:

My love for all the examples mentioned above is the same love I feel when a guest at Zwijgen is geen optie finds a way to answer one of life’s big questions without creating a moral prison. Opening a door rather than closing one. A door that, hopefully, leads to another room full of new doors. Just like in No Man’s Sky.

If we could find a designer that can mirror that kind of beauty, I will be most happy.

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