Introducing the Design Dialogue

   As a design student, you are introduced to the fundamentals of design early on. They are broken down by elements & principles, and are meant to be used in juxtaposition with one another for ultimate effect. The elements and principles are listed below, which any and every design concept or expression of art uses to bring a project to life.

Elements & principles of design

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   As a recent design graduate, I'm left with this brewing feeling that I'm just not done yet. I'm not done learning & I'm not done asking questions. Of course I have my professional practice of design to explore, but the ideas & concepts have me yearning to keep going. Alone, the fundamentals of design outlined above introduce a world of potential to dive into, but there's a part of me that knows there is even more. I want to dive deeper.

   I've had the peculiar position of leading a rather esoteric, spiritual path prior to my official introduction to design. For years I have practiced, preached, and probed the art of yoga. I was introduced as a high school student and from there my love and curiosity grew. I practiced my entire college career at UCF (thanks for the infinitely available free practices!!) and pursued a yoga teacher training program with the teacher that first lit my yogi flame back in high school. It was a life changing experience - to say the absolute least!!! - and totally set me on a path of ultimate living and spiritual unfolding. It has guided every decision since and now applying it to this new set of principles to practice - a new light has begun to glow.

   In my yoga training, I was introduced to the most far out, depth defying, intrinsically philosophical material. Teachings of the Vedas, Buddha, Jesus, the Atman or Soul, the energetic Chakras and Koshas, and teachers such as Ram Dass, B.K.S. Iyengar, Paramhansa Yogananda, etc. (just to name a few . . .), opened my world inside & out and unveiled to me what was always there but what I had not yet discovered in this lifetime. Openness, fluidity, the art of energy and movement, wellness, love - these are all aspects of life that were invited into each moment as I continued to explore the practice of yoga. One of the most memorable concepts I was introduced to was the art of Ayurveda, and it was memorable simply because it is such a transformational practice.

   What is Ayurveda? The word Ayurveda is Sanskrit for "life-knowledge" and essentially, it is a system of holistic medicine and healing developed in ancient India. Comprised of various remedial traditions and beliefs, it is a practice that has one central goal: Wellness. How does it work? Ayurveda defines three basic doshas, which are elemental energies or mind-body types - vata, pitta, and kapha. The doshas are each comprised of a variation of the 5 natural elements - earth, fire, water, air, and ether. The focus of the Ayurvedic practice is to balance these energies through 10 pairs of opposing qualities - heavy/light, cold/hot, oily/dry, dull/sharp, slimy/rough, dense/liquid, soft/hard, gross/subtle, stable/mobile, and sticky/clear. Tradition states that equality of the doshas results in health, while inequality results in disease.

elements & Properties of ayurveda

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   Throughout our lives our intricacies shift and are of course dependent on external factors, but each of us have one reigning dosha as well as a secondary dosha, and it's helpful to know what they are. (You can take a 3-minute quiz to discover yours here, courtesy of Yoga International.) For example, if your primary dosha is vata, a blend of ether and air elements (like me), you will find comfort and security in warm, grounding environments. If your primary dosha is pitta, a blend of fire and water elements, you will find you feel more balanced in cool, soft, smooth environments. If your primary dosha is kapha, you will benefit from clear, open, tranquil environment.

   The complexities grow greater and greater, but . . . What if we invited this practice into our home? What if we surrounded ourselves with elements that encourage and facilitate this goal of wellness? What if we educated ourselves on the humans and purpose of any given space, and designed using an entirely new set of principles? Combining these methodologies and applying them to the way we live and the spaces we occupy, what does that look and feel like?

   There is an even deeper scientific underlay of the ayurvedic traditions, as well as physical practices and dietary techniques that can help to balance your doshas (which you can learn about here and here), but something sparked for me when I imagined this most unanticipated union . . . and BAM! Just like that, my theory behind "Ayurveda for the Home" was born and thus, this Design Dialogue.

   As a lover and supporter of all things natural and beautiful, it really gets me going thinking about all the connections to uncover and truths to expose. Standing at the beginning of this journey, one underlying truth I know & feel applies daily to life and to design is the unequivocal connection between being human and being in nature. 

   Think about it . . . the most awe-inspiring moments, those moments of pure clarity; the feelings of comfort, solace, wisdom and abundance spawned by walking through a natural setting - is there any greater feeling? In nature, everything is balanced. It's as well and good as an environment can be. It is everything you want and nothing that you don't need. It's where everything important is revealed and all the extraneous noise & chatter fades away. It is where everything that matters is fostered, embraced and reinforced, and I want that truth to be the focus of my practice - as a designer, as a yogi, and as a human being living this life. Ya dig?


   Through my professional practice of design and my Design Dialogue musings, I plan to explore & uncover just how deep these concepts have the potential to take us. My goal is to keep coming back to this topic and massaging my way through the fascia, with no predetermined rhyme or reason, no method to my madness; just a flow of curiosity and a desire to chase it. 

   This sort of exploration or experiment can only be made greater if others join in with their own thoughts, experiences and breakthroughs, so I ask that you share with me in this endeavor. I will be here week after week, Designing the Dialogue, posing the questions, twisting my way through and inviting you in for the discussion. So consider this an open invitation, and maybe be the yin to my yang?



xoxo, Karlene



Have I sparked your curiosity? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Sound off on:

   (1) What about this topic strikes you? 

   (2) What is your impression of Ayurveda?

   (3) What do you think the every day built environment is missing or needs more of?

   (4) Any other thoughts, questions, comments!

   (Sidenote: If you prefer to reach out to me directly with your thoughts, drop me an email:



And if you're still reading, THANK YOU for joining me on this journey. xo