Design in a City

Seminar Week 4


For this class,we were supposed to read 6 chapters and identify interesting design elements in them. Here is my analysis:

1. Tamara/Cities and Signs 1- “You penetrate it along streets thick with signboards jutting from the walls”. This section of the chapter shows extensive usage of signs and symbolism. Sometimes even the form of structures in the city becomes a signage( like the lions and dolphins as shields and statues).

2.Fedora/Cities and Desire 4- Confusing language which depicts constant change.(ref. first paragraph).It also represents the thoughts and ideas of every citizen through the concept of the blue globes. It represents desire as the wish to change a city according to one’s own preferences. “Chooses the city that corresponds to his desires, contemplates it…”

3. Eudoxia/ Cities and the Sky 1- Design of the carpet shows symmetry. The description of the carpet creates a probable colour palette for the whole city.
“Crimson,indigo,magenta thread…..purple enclosure”

4.Moriana/Cities and Eyes 5- Represents contrast.Shows that all cities and places have a dark underbelly that’s an intrinsic part of them, no matter how good they may seem on the surface.

5.Zenobia/Thin Cities 2- The narration of the chapter is very visually provoking.The concept of an entire city balancing on stilts is very interesting. For me it gives a sense of fragility and apprehension.

6. Ersilia/Trading Cities 4- The city depicts connecting threads as a metaphor for relationships. It gives a new meaning to the phrases ,”tying the knot” and “cutting ties” with people,as well as being ‘tangled’ in the web of relationships. The dense,intertwined strings also give a sense of continuity.

We were asked the question,” How does one talk about cities?” . The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of any city is probably the ambience that’s stuck in my head with respect to that particular location. For example, if someone says Jaipur, I immediately think of a grainy saturated filter with a pink undertone washed over some gorgeous ancient architecture. Besides this initial thought, I also connect cities with the emotions and memories attached to that place. After all these experiences come to mind, I put all the physical aspects like food, buildings, climate,etc into place.Below is a compilation of all the words we could come up with in class when asked this question:

Next,our task was to pick any city from the book,write down it’s tangible and intangible elements, and then connect the two. I chose Tamara for this exercise.

Tangible ElementsIntangible Elements
A hibiscus flowerThe change of a season
Presence of SignboardsCaution, Mishap, Guidance
Statues and shields with lions and dolphinsHistory to the city,mythology
Rules on signboardsRigidity in the system, Discipline
Presence of several templesStrong religious beliefs and superstition
School,Mint, Prison, Brothel Form represents function
One thing signifying another (eg.marsh-vein of water,print in sand-tiger)City based heavily on semiontics

For the next class, we were asked to write 6 chapters of 300-500 words each, creating our own imaginary city. We could take inspiration from chapters included in the book,or a real city. We were supposed to identify elements in the chapters which we wanted to include in our city, and decide how we wanted to use them.

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