WoodCentral's Book Reviews
The Old Way of Seeing

The Old Way of Seeing
by Jonathan Hale

Houghton Mifflin, 1994
Paperback, 197pp, $16.20
ISBN 0-395-74010-X

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    Boston architect Jonathan Hale has a theory: not only have we, in our modern age, lost our way in terms of architectural design, we have lost our connection to a fundamental intuitive understanding of design overall.
     Scale, The Golden Section, The Fibonacci Series, Harmony, Proportion: Hale introduces the historical basis and impact of each facet of design. He describes it in terms of architecture, but is leading the reader through principles applicable to all design.
     In Woodwork magazine #50 (April '98), Windsor chair maker Michael Dunbar introduced Hale's book to the woodworking community in 'Evolving Perspective In Windsors.' Physically setting up a series of Hale's 'regulating lines' converging from the planes of his Windsor chair to a vanishing point several feet behind it, Dunbar was able to solve design problems that had nagged him without his knowing why.
     Hale says, "The grammar of shape is innately understood. Unlike speech, it is visible in plants and animals everywhere. The intuitive design process gives access to that knowledge. You do not work at design, you play at it."
    If nothing else, Hale's book will make the reader more aware of structure and pattern, of the dance of light and shadow and form in any design observed.

...Barb Siddiqui