What do designers emphasize the most?

LA Master's Student Na Li writes about her experience as a student and discusses her Master's Thesis.

February 23, 2017 - Author: Na Li, Master's Student

Principal Component Analysis Chart by Na Li, Landscape Architecture Master’s student.
Principal Component Analysis Chart by Na Li, Landscape Architecture Master’s student.

From my seven years of studies in the landscape architecture program at Michigan State University, I learned that our world is not linear. There is always a new perspective to see just by adding a bit of seasoning to change our routine dishes.

I enjoy drawing and painting, so I was interested in understanding the ideas and values that various authorities have concerning these activities. For my master’s thesis, I investigated the relationships among seven artists, designers, and sketchers in terms of their normative guiding principles: Mike Lin, Jon Burley, Robert Oliver, Michael Doyle, Robert Wood, William Kent, and Claude Monet. I then collected 156 principles from the written materials about them. A common social science statistical tool, Principal Component Analysis (PCA), was used to ordinate the relationships of the principles.

I discovered that the first two components (dimensions), explained 48.66% of the variance amongst the designer’s normative ideas. By plotting the results, I could observe three different clusters: graphic artists, space designers, and painters. The “positive cluster” of graphic artists, Michael Doyle, Mike Lin, Robert Oliver, was most concerned with line. The “negative cluster” consisted of painters Claude Monet and Robert Wood, who were most concerned with color. Finally, the “near-zero cluster” of space designers Jon Burley and William Kent were most concerned with composition.

Without all my fellows, my advisors, and my instructors who helped me at MSU, I probably could never have found a good point of view to start my master’s thesis. They helped me find the right seasonings to make my school life richer and more cheerful than before.

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