Beauty Goes Beyond the Eye of the Beholder

I have found myself questioning the adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” If beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, then why are we nearly universally drawn to sunsets? Or the deep vista of the Grand Canyon, newborn babies and starry heavens? Out of curiosity, I Googled “What are the most gorgeous things on earth?” I discovered commonality: Cloudy skies, stars, love, mountains and laughter were on many people’s lists.

You will find universal qualities of beauty designed into the fabric of the planet; qualities which inspire us and make us pause. Those qualities can exist within various architectural styles and preferences. But I think if we look beneath the surface of that which inspires us, we’ll find common qualities.

Below are eight jobs that show various but universal qualities of beauty.

Bianchi Design

Shade and Reflection

“How beautiful the leaves grow older. How full of light and color are their last days.” — John Burroughs

Shade triggers something within us ; our emotions react to blazing sunsets.

Swatt | Miers Architects

Harmony and Serenity

“Art is a stability parallel with character.” — Paul Cezanne

The minimalist beauty and extraordinary execution of the teahouse provide it a harmonious connection to its immediate natural context.

Dirk Denison Architects

Rhythm and Materials

“A scene really needs a rhythm of its own, a structure of its own.” Michelangelo Antonioni

Rhythm is the unseen force which holds art together. Here the architect superbly orchestrated several materials into a lyrical composition.

William Reue Architecture

Mystery and Contrast

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” Neil Armstrong

The comparison of this lit wall’s color and geometry with all the dark setting brings in a childlike way.

Archer & Buchanan Architecture, Ltd..

Perspective and Transparency

“Distance not only provides nostalgia, but perspective, and possibly objectivity.” Robert Morgan

This twisting fence’s transparency varies according to your location relative to the fence.

Scale and Juxtaposition

“And as I looked in the star, I realized what countless different people have realized when looking at celebrities. We’re tiny.” Danny Wallace

Guests to this garden find themselves among dauntingly huge trees, to remind them just how tiny they are.

See more of the landscape


Simplicity and Whimsy

“Simplicity is the glory of saying.” Walt Whitman

The attractiveness of the swing is within its simple design. Leaning back and kicking your feet up reverts you to a state of childlike whimsy.

Blasen Landscape Architecture

Wandering and Exploration

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Though I wouldn’t mind wandering along this path until I was missing.

Perhaps the surface of beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if we dig deeper, get beneath the surface, we discover that there are universal qualities of attractiveness.

More: Why Authenticity in Architecture Things

What inspires you? Post images below and add a brief note about what caliber of beauty you see.

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