Hümanur Bağlı
4 minutes

There is a basic design study that we have students do in the design department and we discuss it a lot: “Calculated Randomness” (Calculated Randomness). Students have a hard time trying to think about and imagine such a topic, and the environment in which it is raised leads to a lesson that is fueled by a lot of discussion and aphorisms.

Indeed, this is a statement that contains contradictions in itself. If we calculate, how can we talk about randomness? Or if we are talking about the random, where is the math in that? The subject unravels a little more when we start talking about examples: pebbles by the sea, or shantytowns clustered on the side of a hill, and so on. Examples like these make it easier to imagine the issue. These are situations or scenes that, although they create images without the idea of a complete order, create a general characteristic, a pattern, and for this reason they are pleasing or beautiful to our eyes and inspire us to photograph or paint them. Maybe the sounds of vendors in an old bazaar, the murmurs of people, the sounds of spoons hitting tea cups in a teahouse, or the smells in a place like this could create such a harmony in total.

So why is there an emphasis on being “calculated” in this statement in such a flow? Because future designers, as agents of an intervention, have responsibilities. I mean, how can we design such a state of randomness, or how can we create it? How can we talk about design or calculation when the examples given involve precisely those situations that were not calculated and unplanned?

For years in my classes, we have discussed this issue with students. It has been an interesting subject that I often feel the need to refer to in their own projects, making us smile a little. But it’s only recently that it has moved out of the realm of design education and has become something that makes me think about design in a broader sense, even though it’s been carefully tied back to the subject of design.

There are many things that we cannot foresee or predict in the life we live. That the future is an enigma is the essence of life. Or one of the strangest rules of this game. There are always strange unexpected things that we think we can predict a little bit, but we don’t really know. This perhaps corresponds to what we call “haphazard”. However, when we stop and take a look at our lives, we often realize that in the longer term we have been in a kind of pattern, a calculated pattern. What we call “wisdom” is perhaps the manifestation of this pattern, that moment of realization, that sense of “calculatedness”. It’s a pattern that can be recognized when you look from above and from a distance, or when enough time has passed.

Would it be more accurate, then, to say “random calculatedness” rather than “calculated randomness” for a human being who ultimately sees an image of a pattern and for such a sum of perception? It is not a big deal, there is no need to bring the chicken and egg story here again.

I think it is hidden in the wonderful Turkish translation of the word “randomness”: “gelişi güzel”, that is literally, “beautifully coming”, which means looking at life and what we experience from within a culture that sees what comes as beautiful. A delicacy that sees the appearance and arrival of the beloved as beautiful as herself. A delicacy that sees the appearance and arrival of the beloved as beautiful as herself.

But without losing the surprise in the word “randomness”, to live by probing, sniffing, sniffing.

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