Reflections on Design and Worldmaking

Meta Convenience: A Photographic Essay

Known for a scale of convenience at nearly unmatched levels, Buc-Ee’s is a Texas Gulf Coast chain of highway stores signified by a cartoonish beaver, cheap ice, and clean bathrooms. Typical footprints cover over 60,000 square feet and feature up to 64 gas pumps. The quantity of inventory is mind-boggling and orderly. In, “A Designer’s Art” [1], Paul Rand describes the mesmerizing pull that repetition brings to a frame, its “magical, almost hypnotic effects”, and cites plain-as-day examples that include marching soldiers, neatly arranged flower beds, football crowds, chorus girls, and flocks of birds. Buc-Ee’s delivers on that principle en masse. Row after row, column after column, the shelves are packed tight with product despite a ceaseless cycle of customers from Texas interstates who patronize the store. 

Nothing seems out of place and never is there a bare spot on a shelf, creating a museum-like atmosphere. Samples are in generous supply with all the bites of fudge and ice cream you’re willing to ask for before you buy an ample supply for the road or your final destination. I genuinely felt the need to get something before I left for fear of a missed opportunity not unlike shopping the gift store on the way out of a higher-brow cultural institution. 

The possibilities of repetition are limitless. Repeat patterns are only one familiar form. There is repetition of color, direction, weight, dimension, movement, expression, shape, and so on. Repetition is an effective way of achieving unity.
— Paul Rand

(1) Rand, P., “A Designer’s Art”, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985

Process Notes on Painting, Part I

Exposed: A Photographic Essay