Designing apps - Flo-culture
Designing apps

by Katherine Pearson

Discovering that our approach to design has Roman roots

Vitruvius and his principles


‘Who knows Vitruvius?’

My good friend and colleague, Tim Crump, opened a presentation he and I were giving at Heritage Interpretation Day like this: ‘Who knows Vitruvius?’ A few tentative hands headed upwards. I was immediately impressed. Tim continued ‘And who knows his principles?’, quiet mumbling. I was confident about my response to both questions – no idea and even less of an idea.

I was intrigued and at the same time slightly worried that he might turn to me – his trusted double act partner – for the answer. But fortunately, he confidently ploughed on, doubtless well aware that I, like most of the audience didn’t know, but wanted to find out.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollowas a famous Ancient Roman architect. His most famous work, written around 20-30BC, Ten Books on Architecture, is counted by many modern day architects as the oldest, and most influential work on architecture ever published.

Vitruvius believed that an architect should focus on three central themes when preparing a design for a building firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality) and venustas (beauty).

Design with principles

Suddenly it all made sense – as Tim explained, when designing new apps for clients, we are governed by Vitruvius principles.

  • venustas (beauty) – universal laws of proportion and symmetry/ natural laws of harmony and beauty
  • utilitas (functionality) – users experience
  • firmitas (strength) – content (absolute value)

It was good to be reminded that our design principles have such auspicious roots! Thanks Tim.

Published by:
Katherine Pearson

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