Design Research 02/08/10

February 17, 2010

Group E:  Kristi, Sylvia, Duncan, Nick
Topic:  Cross Tensions, Bridging Devices

Our subjects for this little in-class research project were Cross Tensions and Bridging Devices.  The definitions for these terms were a bit difficult to nail down during our library research but, by looking at various images in books and on the internet, we were able to piece together a rough estimation of what each of them means.

Cross tensions could have multiple definitions.

  • Criss-crossing or interweaving lines causing tension in an image.  More specifically, a series of horizontal lines with strong, interrupting vertical lines overlapping them.
  • Architectural design element using criss-crossing beams as designs

One example is as follows: (from Design Basics)

Cross tension is an element utilized in design to create, well, tension.  Under normal circumstances, horizontal lines imply stability, while vertical lines imply strength.  When overlapped in such a jarring fashion, or tilted to form crossing diagonal lines, tension is naturally created.

Here are some examples of Cross Tension in art/print:

On Points — Wassily Kandinsky

Circles in a Circle – Wassily Kandinsky

Red In the Net — Wassily Kandinsky

Suprematism — Kazimir Malevich

Video Game Example:  Donkey Kong
Nick MacMichael’s Cross Tension Example

Kristi Walker’s Cross Tension Example

Next up we have Bridging Devices.  They can be roughly defined as:

  • An element used in painting or design to bridge an idea or theme
  • A horizontal element in an image that connects or bridges multiple vertical elements
  • An element in architecture that bridges two disparate elements of the building/buildings

One example of architecture is this image, which uses crossing arches to bridge two different buildings: (from Design Basics)

And…more Bridging Device examples:

Red Cross on Block Circle— Kazimir Malevich

Suprematism No. 50 — Kazimir Malevich

Sylvia Yu Bridging Device Example (also has Cross Tensions going on here)

Duncan MacMichael Bridging Device Example

Video Game Bridging Device Example:  World of Goo



  • Design Basics — by David A. Lauer/Stephen Pentak
  • Design Basics — by David A. Lauer
  • Making and Breaking the Grid — by Timothy Samara
  • Principles of Two-Dimensional Design — by Wucius Wong



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