Much-loved at V&R is this quote from Lord Shaftesbury: “There is a power in numbers, harmony, proportion and beauty of every kind, which naturally captivates the heart and raises the imagination to an opinion or conceit of something majestic and divine.”
Much-loved because, I think, true. V&R has documented examples of its truth before and here is another: Target’s design tactic. Target has a full-scale shop empty but for new display concepts that revolve in and out as the company plots sale’s strategy: https://www.fastcodesign.com/90177425/inside-targets-top-secret-test-store
This quote from the article matches Shaftesbury well: “Visual is both math and magic.”
The magic is value tones. Designers mock up entire shelves to see how best to cordinate colours, shapes, and signage. Interestingly, products on tables sell faster than those on racks so each product is also assessed for the speed at which it is sold and how much money each table generates, therefore. This is the math in the quote. It is an obvious sense of mathematics but Shaftesbury also thinks value tones are mathematics in a richer, structural sense. Value tones exhibit symmetry and thus rely on number. This is what the designers are contemplating when they mock up shelves and tables.