Harmonious Screen Interface Design Principles from Chinese Calligraphy

Xu, Dongjie (2010) Harmonious Screen Interface Design Principles from Chinese Calligraphy. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Harmony is a major theme in Chinese culture. It is reflected in many forms, e.g. painting and garden design. However, calligraphy gives a straight forward insight into harmony in two dimensions. The main hypothesis was that the principles for building a harmonious calligraphic character could be converted from holistic to deductive and computable ones. These could then be applied to the design of harmonious screen interfaces, which would give visual pleasure.
The first aim was to investigate and discover the quantifiable features of harmony in Chinese regular script calligraphy. Calligraphy has been associated in China with harmony and elegance for over 1500 years. There are features that are commonly accepted to establish harmony which can be quantified. However, the principles of Chinese calligraphy are embedded within Chinese culture. Direct translation does not convey the meaning. An extensive study was made of the literature on Chinese calligraphy and a practical exploration of characters was made. This resulted in a small number of principles which were needed to be satisfied for the character to appear harmonious. These were tested on several groups of participants.
These principles were then converted into a mathematical form for Chinese regular script calligraphy, and for application to harmonious screen interface design. The mathematical forms were then tested on both Chinese regular script calligraphy and also on interface designs with groups of participants.
Finally, an application for comparing harmony in Chinese calligraphic characters and interface designs was created. The “Harmony” application can be used to calculate how a Chinese calligraphic character or an interface design satisfies the principles of harmony and it can give an indication of how harmonious they are.

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