Book review by Andrew Kosorok, Author of such books as 99 Names: 1 to 25 and The Windows of Dzyan
For fourteen hundred years, best practice in geometric design has been defined through traditional Islamic geometric art. Eric Broug, an artist and internationally recognized expert on Islamic art, has been writing and teaching about this subject for years.
This book is a clear treatise on the decisions serious designers have to make when seeking to properly honor the rich history of traditional Islamic design. More than that, though, Eric also discusses the thought process behind best practice and true professionalism in any design field.
In his years of study Mr. Broug has come to recognize that best practice in Islamic design has been consistently taught throughout the centuries and across the world, with identical principles consistently appearing across cultural and temporal boundaries.
“It is not clear how this knowledge was transferred but the visual evidence plainly shows that all builders and designers in the Islamic world used the same rules. Always.”
When we examine the artwork closely, with an eye to precision and detail, it becomes obvious that there are indeed specific rules the artists were all using.
“This manual shows what these rules are and how to apply them.”
Before giving details on best practice, he thoroughly discusses the rules of Islamic geometric construction and design, and goes on to give (somewhat apologetically) several contemporary examples of poor application of this centuries-old tradition.
I am convinced this is never done out of any desire to avoid honoring tradition. Rather, I agree with Mr. Broug that the tremendous majority of today’s designers remain unaware of the foundational principles of Islamic design. Which is why I am so gratified Eric spent a significant amount of work in this book identifying and explaining those principles which support best practice. Rather than stressing a need to follow each and every rule of traditional design, he proposes that best practice comes down to a few simple and prioritized issues which will have the greatest and most positive impact on design application.
He also shows how these principles can be applied to best practices in design generally, rather than being limited solely to Islamic themes.
Eric Broug has focused his years of experience and observation into a work which directly addresses the desperate need for good design in the contemporary world. Rather than a book just for designers and artists, this teaches principles clearly so anyone can develop the tools they need to become an intentional participant in the creation of their own space.
And he teaches us how to properly honor the craftspeople who, over the centuries, have created so much beauty in the world.