Those who know me well would tell you that I have always been drawn to things which are asymmetric. I often choose clothing which is asymmetric in design - no I don't walk around with one trouser leg longer than the other! But I do often sport knitwear which is definitely not symmetrical. Once, during my students days, many moons ago, I even had my hair styled so that it was about 3 inches longer at one side than the other - luckily I'm not showing photographic evidence of that!
I realised a long time ago, that I am probably in the minority of people in the WESTERN world who prefer things which are not symmetrical. For example Di Overton, over at Designers Block recently wrote "I cannot bear anything that is not symmetrical. I have tried to not straighten the rug in our lounge but it is beyond my capabilities. I change seats in restaurants if a picture isn't straight on the wall" - and I think that this is probably the prevailing point of view.
It was only about five years ago, on reading a back issue of the Kyoto Journal - issue 47 to be exact, that I came across an extremely fascinating article which resulted in one of those Aha! moments, when the penny dropped and I finally understood why I had such a penchant for the unequal, the incomplete, or some would say just plain squint! The article in question was "Asymmetry, Writing and the
Mind, an exploration of creative principles" by Andy Couturier (you can find more information about the author here).
He explains in the article that "Asymmetrical ambiguity is rich with potential, it allows participation in the process of creation". In other words, when I design a book (such as the one shown above) in a deliberately asymmetrical way, it is so that the piece is open to interpretation, so that it invites the reader/viewer to interact with it, so that it is dynamic - provoking the imagination to find new links, the mind to find different patterns, new juxtapositions, new relationships. And that is why asymmetry is a gift - its an invitation to play and to expand awareness, it coaxes and encourages us to see things anew each time we look!
Please feel free to comment and tell me whether you prefer symmetry or asymmetry.