Tilted perspective
Birmingham, MI
Assessing the merit of the circle versus the square in the practical application of design.

The wheel gets a lot of praise. Rightfully so. Of rounded design, it is perfectly balanced. Infinite yet contained. Graceful, elegant, and flowing in its holistic circularness. Worthy enough for the very earth to have taken its shape. And for anything that involves motion, from a car to a clock to a spinning digital disk, the exalted ring reigns supreme, literally running circles around the square.

But take another look around you. Your phone. TV screen. Computer monitor. Laptop. Windows, doors, panels, refrigerator, oven, cupboards, breakfast cereal… all square. Same for the shape of your house, the “block” you live on, the street signs on the corner, aerial views of landscapes, and the pages their images are printed on. The letters you send, the stamps you affix, and just about every package that comes to your door in the form of a box.

Yes, the earth is much flatter than we think. Yet the square hardly gets its props. On the contrary, it’s often mocked and associated with the geeky, nebbish, and all that is opposite of hip.

Why is the square arguably so much more prevalent than its circumferential rival?

For one, it measures easily. With the exception of the igloo, it makes for better home construction, from floors to walls to ceilings. Brick by brick, slate to slate, stone for stone. These are square, and whether in the physical or metaphorical sense, they are noted as building blocks, not building rounds. The square is arguably a better design for practical purposes. You name it, from bricklaying to storage, the square simply stacks up better.

That said, it really is no matter whether the scale tips in favor of either the wheel or the square. You see, both are enjoying notoriety for a limited time only. Because based on sightings of spacecraft designed by those of higher intelligence, it is the triangle that seems to be all the rage in the future.

Which may just put an entirely new angle on things.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. Agree? Disagree?
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