Notes from the Field: On Lines

July 2, 2012

By Cheryl Katz

Lately our son Oliver has become increasingly interested in architecture and is developing an affinity for the most basic tools of that trade–namely a parallel ruler and a straightedge. The mastery of drawing a line will, one day, allow him to construct the plans and elevations necessary for a backyard shed or a luxury high rise, for a lounge chair or a lamp. (He will, of course, be aided by CAD, Illustrator, Vectorworks, Revit and a host of other technological wonders yet to be conceived, but that is not what this post is about.)

How the line–a continuous span without much thickness in proportion to its length–will make patterns, repeat, intersect and overlap, and how it will translate in a certain material, remain key considerations for both novice and experienced architects and designers. As the path of the line makes new shapes–both intentional and unpredictable–exciting new forms develop. Oliver, taking his lead from the design masters below, would do well to follow it.

Tom Dixon Etch Light Web. Photo courtesy of Tom Dixon

Fernando and Humberto Campana Zig Zag Paravento Screen. Photo from

Marcel Wanders Knotted chair. Photo courtesy of Marcel Wanders

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec Algues Screen System for Vitra. Photo from