When filtering a design through this lens there are a few questions to be asked:
How do the individual elements interact with one another? Do they look like they came from the same master plan?
What is the perceived structural role of the various elements and are those elements performing their duty?
These are not questions for the intellect – we must call on our emotional nature for the answer – we must close our eyes and let our imagination and intuition play out the scenario.
To illustrate the point, let’s take the leg indent detail from the Greene & Greene Blacker House living room furniture.
In my vision the indent detail has a perceived structural role to play in the design – it is a device used to visually anchor the design to the ground (just as many other classic bottom- of -leg details). The “indent” pushes down and transfers the visual weight of the piece to the very bottom of the leg. That bottom portion of the leg (below the indent) is thus receiving the entire weight of the piece. There must also be a sufficient amount of mass below the indent to visually support the given weight. The slight round-over/ taper below the supporting mass serves to visually contain the weight and not let it dissipate.
In nature everything is there for a purpose. When a design possesses DNA there is an economy in its details – nothing is superfluous.