07.18.07

why do we like rounded corners?

Posted in Art, Random thoughts at 1:03 pm by ducky

I ran into a posting that theorized about why we like rounded corners. Basically, it said that we are drawn to organic, natural-looking forms.

I think it’s much simpler than that: we are drawn to things that look expensive, and rounded corners look expensive. Rounded corners are expensive in this day and age. They are harder to design and harder to manufacture.

I remember being struck by the ceilings at the Uffizi — the designs on the ceilings of the corridors were all very regular and precise. To my eyes, they looked kind of boring. Well, back when the Uffizi was built, it was very difficult (i.e. expensive) to make things that were very regular and precise. Machines are really good at that, but people less so.

In the Renaissance, great effort was made to make paintings look extremely realistic. Then, in the late 19th century, impressionism — which was not particularly realistic — was born. I don’t think it is a coincidence that daguerrotypes were invented in the mid-19th century. Extreme realism was no longer particularly difficult/expensive.

(The impressionists also profited greatly from the being able to buy pre-made tubes of paint, instead of being shackled to a studio with a bunch of apprentices running around literally creating the paints. But that’s a different story.)

Bottom line: we are attracted to rounded corners because they look expensive.

Comments »

  1. knapjack said,

    July 21, 2007 at 6:33 am

    What’s funny is that if we’re talking about Web design, rounded corners are (or were) expensive, requiring the hiring of a Javascript artisan to chisel out the appropriate image layers.

    I like your theory.

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