Visual language is as unique as a foreign language. If you do not speak French and hear someone speaking it, you are left in the dark and confused. You try to use any means available to understand the person, but at best you only “get” part of the message.

The complexity behind visual language is that we use word to describe it, and many times certain words mean different things to different people.

Consider the word: modern. To some it means that when they say “I want a modern design”, they mean they want something new and current. To others when they hear the word modern, they think of an era of design. Modern architecture has many visual images associated with it, and the answer to a “modern” design could be very different from what is intended. Likewise, when other words are used to describe an idea or direction, the images may not meet the expectations of the client.

  • The process of using images and photographs to convey an idea and to clarify a meaning of an idea is essential in order to find common understanding at the beginning of the design process.
  • As the project progresses, the use of drawings, diagrams, images and models that communicate the design is necessary to continue a clear and meaningful dialogue about the design and the improvements, refinements and completion.

The better the drawing or model describes the design direction, the clearer the conversation will become, and the better the project will be.

Never assume you know what the intention of a design is without clarifying it in the proper language.

You may get lucky, but just think of how much better the work would be if you actually understood the conversation.

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