On Symmetry

I teach symmetry to my young students each year.  As a math concept it’s about those lines, you know, the ones that if you fold a shape along lines of symmetry the shape will be the same on each side.  But in practice, in life, symmetry is more than that.

Here’s my collection of #symmetry photos for the first four days of August:

The pure mathematician might argue with the validity of my symmetry photos.  But what I love most about looking for symmetry is that I am also noticing other interesting design elements…and the places where symmetry falls apart, and the places where symmetry is intentionally absent.

Sometimes I think symmetry gets confused with balance.  You know, like the scales where you have to have equal weight on each side to make the buckets hang at exactly the same level. Sometimes I love symmetry…two sides that perfectly mirror one another.  And other times I love the impact of asymmetry, purposeful disruption of that mirror image.

Exploring symmetry makes me think about choices we make in our lives.  I think balance may be overrated.  Sometimes we simply need to go overboard–and follow our passions to the extreme.  That is where creativity lives, pushing the limits and following whims without regard to the rules of design or achieving balance.  And that’s the beauty of iteration, revision, or even failure…it gives us the opportunity to look again, try again, and see what we might do differently the next time around.  Learning is like that.

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