Monday, September 14, 2009

Design, Balance, and Bonsai

Garr Reynolds has a unique perspective on design and presentation graphics. In the last two posts on his Presentation Zen blog he discussed 7 Japanese aesthetic principles to change your thinking and 10 design lessons from the art of ikebana.

Those posts reminded me that you can also see design in bonsai, those artfully pruned miniature trees or shrubs with their own aesthetic rules. Contrast the two bonsai shown above. The top one is upright and balanced, very different from the bottom one.

Both are in the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, which is located at the Weyerhaeuser corporate campus near Federal Way, Washington. Currently the collection is not open to the public, but you can read more about the top tree in their photo gallery.

If your mind map for a speech topic looks more like the bottom photo than the top, perhaps you should think further before you inflict it on an audience.


Sarah Gershman said...

Terrific post. I also love Presentation Zen. I am a speech coach and connect zen speaking to zen surfing. I just wrote about this is my speaking advice blog -

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts!


Richard I. Garber said...


Thank you for your comment. Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen book completely changed my approach to visual aids like PowerPoint.

Your September 29 blog post is excellent. The September 21 post about not moving your head reminded me of my post yesterday about how irritating a bobbing or darting head can be either when speaking from a manuscript or a teleprompter. I also loved your September 2 post, Be a Starfish Speaker. A starfish is a great metaphor for a mind map.