I must have mentioned Gestalt in a posting because I had an email today asking me what it meant. In German it means: form, but it also has a connotation of wholeness and completeness. Take for example when we look at a table: we don't need to count the number of legs and the angles and planes of wood (or whatever the table is made of) we grasp it quickly as a whole and confidently label it 'table'. The idea of Gestalt is the foundation of many design principles - we are comfortable if, without a long analysis, we can grasp wholeness or completedness in a design. If, however, that completeness is not quite there, we feel jarred or shocked without necessarily understanding why. As any proof-reader knows, Gestalt is the bane of one's life! Here is a little Gestalt test for you, which you may like to try on your friends around the party table this week.
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
(If there are any readers who do not have English as their first language it would be an interesting experiment to hear if you can make sense of it also.)