Randy Thom’s assessment of what makes 'sound design heaven' (stylised visuals, sparse dialogue and sparse music) lead me to a simple conclusion.
The common aesthetic though is to not do that, and so when we embark on a journey of creating sound design and music, we are obviously making choices. Those choices should be important.
As a sound designer, I spend a lot of time with these tools, so it makes sense to spend a lot of time finding (also nurturing and sometimes creating, or at least hacking) the right ones. It makes sense, too, to spend a lot of time thinking about them, for without them I cannot work, or cannot work as well.
Also, is (film) sound so subjective that finding commonalities among the many different textures that exist is, while not impossible, trickier, more murky, or even politically sensitive, than when talking subjectively about, say, colour, framing, composition, and shot length?
The concept of useful, complex noise, such as described in Thom’s post, the idea of having slightly randomised noise within your film soundtrack is an anathema to the school of thought that says as film sound designers we should be more concerned with taking elements away, decluttering the sound space, than adding to it with loosely defined (for want of a better term) noise.
However, story room, which Thom describes as a situation where, 'the sounds were basically non sequiturs. There was nothing in the story they could resonate with and/or the scene wasn’t structured visually and dynamically in a way that gave sound design a role,' is a different set of circumstances to try and unpack.
The other part of the equation would be depth, because that is often what is wanted as an outcome; emotional, expository, sensory depth. To my mind, depth comes from understanding: understanding what’s important and then selecting, discriminating, with one’s choices, based on that understanding.