Information Decoration: Our Environment as an Information Carrier

Koert van Mensvoort argues that information designers should take cues from the decorative world to better weave the daily flow of information into our surroundings:

For centuries, people have been utilising decorative patterns, indoors and out, with the aim of improving and giving an identity to the atmosphere around them. The primary goal is not information but aesthetics. What happens if we start looking at every pattern in our environment as a possible information carrier? Look around you, wherever you are. Try to recognise all of the forms and patterns in the space. The flowered wallpaper, the humming of the air-conditioning, the fish in the aquarium, a shadow on the wall. Do you realise how few of the patterns in our environment are being used as information carriers?

I wish to argue for information decoration, which means seeking a balance between aesthetic and informational quality. Information designers are usually inclined to place the message at the centre of our field of attention (to make sure it comes across). Did no one ever tell them it was impolite to always come straight to the point? We humans have evolved precisely to attend to information at the edges of our field of attention, and when necessary transfer it to the center ourselves.

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