Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is a study of a composite of some homes we're designing in our office in an idealized setting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Watercolor Tree Studies

Please take a look at the following watercolor tree studies where I was experimenting with blending intense colors together and evoking seasonal differences.
The upper is called August Surprise and the lower one is called April Explosion.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Innovation and the Curse of Knowledge

Last night I read in the Sunday NYT 12/30/07, "Innovative Minds Don't Think Alike" by Janet Rae-Dupree in the Bright Ideas section.

I found it very compelling reading as every day in practicing architecture and design I confront my knowledge and lack of knowledge in the work I participate in. As I grow in experience I share the same tendency to come at design challenges with the past in mind rather than with eyes and mind wide open.

Quoting from the article, "when it comes time to accomplish a task - open a store, build a house, buy new cash registers, (design an sustainble, green buildings)..those in the know get it done in the way it has always been done, stifling innovation as the barrel along a well worn path."

This struggle to effectively design a project and/ or provide a service of value vaccilates uneasily between re-use of building systems, site plan ideas or space layouts which are comfortable like old friends or purposeful re-imagination of the design problem or brief with eyes wide open to all of the possibilities.

It is important to have outsiders involved in these design processes to keep professionals and the experts in check. Maintaining a fresh perspective is challenging especially with tight budgets, short timelines and high expectations of clients and other design team members towards designers. If outsiders can't be brought in ask "basic" questions yourself.

Design should be easy to understand and to use, whether it's a knob on an IPOD or entry leading into a large building. This process is difficult as so often there are so many details and issues to grapple with. What I take away from the article is to always keep a fresh eye on where a design is going and constantly ask very basic questions to test the validity of design choices.

An example for me is when choosing a design strategy, regardless of scale, is this choice in someway helping rather than hindering the quality of our environment for our generations and generations to come. If I can't comfortably answer this essential question I pause and take notice. Often such choices come with interdependencies which also must be figured out.

So often, we aspire to design something truly compelling, interesting or unique and in doing so express some aspect of our own inner creative qualities and leaving our mark on humanity, while serving the needs of the greater good. As architects and designers of the built
evironment the marks we leave are usually all too visible and long lasting. Taking care to be reflective and insightful along the whole design process is essential to producing value.

Read this article.