The Classy Order

September 14, 2020

Ania Jaworska and Zack Ostrowski discuss the column, a continuously reused form in Western architecture, making it the most recognizable and familiar symbol.


Ancient Greek architecture, divided into three orders—Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—explored the column as a simultaneously structural and decorative element. The classical forms of the columns persisted and are continuously reused in Western architecture, making them the most recognizable and familiar symbols, deeply embedded in our memory.

As a graphic icon, an image of a column performs as an equalizer of taste. A cliché symbol that is at once tired and bankrupt and culturally loaded. As a logo, it’s hired itself out to both the highest and lowest bidder, and serves everyone from world-class universities to small-town construction companies. It performs with conviction, representing reputable national law firms, and offers a sense of legitimacy to the local shiesty attorney. It’s generic, and floods stock image websites appearing with the ubiquitous “your text here.” It’s inclusive, always available, and as a result unpredictable in its allegiance, partnering equally with dentists, restaurants, and furniture warehouses. It’s this inconsistency and overuse that gives it (fluid) character, but despite its promiscuous tendencies, the message it sends is almost always the same—trust, stability, reliability, and class.

Mas issue character the classy order 01
Mas issue character the classy order 02


Quotes taken from the websites of the companies. Above images and logos of the companies are appropriated for the purposes of critique and commentary.