Throughout history, the concept of beauty has changed. The idea of beauty in the Middle Ages was based on a romanticized conception. The Renaissance period saw the concept of beauty as the result of the movements of planets. It also centered on the harmonies of music. As the modern era emerged, the idea of beauty became selective. In the West, a person’s social status was defined by their aesthetic characteristics. For example, plumpness was considered a sign of wealth in the Renaissance era.
Today’s definition of beauty has been shaped by the media, culture, and politics. This has created a complex system of standards that affect how people view and idealize their appearance. Those with power, capital, and social status gain benefits through the purchase of beauty products. Often, the advertising campaigns of such products rely on their insecurities.
Beauty is the perception of a pleasing experience or pleasure that provides the aesthetic faculty with perceptual and intellectual satisfaction. Similarly, the moral sense is stimulated by it. Despite this, we cannot define beauty with a limited set of criteria. Instead, we can look to the values and aesthetic principles that give meaning and purpose to our lives. Ultimately, the concept of beauty is the outcome of a process in which art gives pleasure to the senses.
Despite its changing definition, the concept of beauty is essential for any design project. Whether it’s a building, a musical composition, a ballet, or a television advertisement, the idea of beauty is present in the work. And that makes the art that we create more than just a piece of work.
Beauty is a manifestation of God’s glory. It is the Divine Idea Manifest. We cannot know the origin of beauty, but the idea of it is present in all things. A beautiful object may be created from nature, or it may be a fictional world. However, the concept of beauty is eternally subjective.
In order to determine the unified theory of beauty, Aquinas provided a rational explanation of beauty. He explained that form and function are simultaneous. Using the analogy of good design, he answered Kant’s humanism and provided a satisfactory explanation of how the rules of aesthetics can be empirically established.
Hedonist conceptions of beauty equate beautiful objects with those that are functionally pleasing and loving. Other hedonist conceptions see the connection between the aesthetic and the functional.
Contemporary hedonists like Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, and Johannes Vermeer, however, went against the traditional norms of beauty. These are examples of game changers. Rather than simply expressing their creative talents through their works of art, these individuals were able to change the way we see the world.
Throughout our lives, we will find new and interesting ways to understand beauty. But the beauty we experience now is just a fraction of the beauty that exists in the world. There is a sweet spot between order and chaos, and it is here that beauty is experienced.