The Real Colors of Balance (HINT: These Aren't It)

The Real Colors of Balance (HINT: These Aren't It)


It’s my word for 2016 (and the rest of my life), but perhaps it ought to be yours as well. 

Extremes come easy to me. Easy for most, I’d venture to say, on the merit of our all-or-nothing society. We’re either drowning in work or one season too deep on Netflix. We either have our [insert number here] - year plan committed to memory or we have no grip on our lives (and will likely end up freelancing on refurbished laptops whilst living under a bridge). December ads says ‘bake, bake, bake’ and January barks ‘run, run, run’. You see my point?

While the yin-yang might be the universal symbol for balance, balance itself isn’t black-and-white. Or so I’ve been recently enlightened.

I’m a glutton for consistency. The black-and-white model provides a sick sense of security for me. (Black-and-black models work even better.) Consequently, on this new quest for balance, I’ve begun stepping outside of myself to gain fresh insight on this word. Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing these insights and experiences, and relating its applications when it comes to work, life, relationships, and, of course, design.  


Everything around us is made up of balance. Everything. The fact that you’re breathing attests to this magnificent oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in our air. If one or the other decides to jump on a fad, it would literally take our breaths away. Everything requires equilibrium to work -- optimally. (Note: Optimally, doesn’t mean maximally.) Granted we can all get on living by extremes, but a broken clock is only correct for two seconds a day.


So we’ll start at the root. Here are three definitions of 'balance' simplified by Merriam-Webster.

1) the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall

2) the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling

3) a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance


Let’s simplify our lives to a three-tiered cake. Red-velvet. Re-baked each day from scratch. Ingredients freely supplied. (Don’t worry. We’re not actually eating this every day. That would go against balance.)

The main objectives of our lives, in this sense, are to A) provide energy  B) taste good, and C) not collapse.

Naturally, we add the eggs and milk, the flour and butter, the red and the velvet.

Balance means that each ingredient gets a proper contribution, not equal. Balance means that no ingredient is forgotten (unless suitably subbed). Balance doesn’t always look symmetrical. Balance is only perfect when it’s perfectly balance.

Each day we are given everything we need to maintain or create balance. It’s up to us to decide which ingredients to add and how much. Balance means that these ingredients will have to get uncomfortably close, mangled together, heated, and unrecognizable in the end. And that doesn’t sound too black-and-white to me.


That, my friends, sounds like a sweet lot of gray.

In a Nutshell: Scandinavian Design

In a Nutshell: Scandinavian Design

Ettore Sottsass: Memphis Mastermind

Ettore Sottsass: Memphis Mastermind