Friday, September 9, 2011

Thoughts on Design - It's People and Smiles, Not Stuff

Design is about bringing smiles to people's faces.  It's not about the stuff.  So often we lose ourselves in the details as architects, designers, planners.  Yes, the little things matter, a lot! But for me smiles power my work.

What do I mean?

I ran into someone today who I've been involved in a design project with.  He's a leader of a user group who've I've been working with together with my other team mates.  He was smiling today.  He said "I am really excited about where things are headed for my area. We've finally got things rolling in a good way."

This in turn made me smile.  As you might guess the team I'm working with has been working really hard to facilitate a positive design outcome.  After numerous meetings, seeming breakdowns in design and lots of re-design we'd finally arrived at an approved solution.  I shared this with some of my other collaborators afterward.  They smiled too!

Of course, this means we get to go to the next stage of detailed design and cost estimating.  And yes we'll be making changes.  Some will be hard to make.  We'll have to let go design elements we deem essential.  This doesn't always produce happy results but I do celebrate the positive steps along the way.

And, as I have come know, "sacred cows make the best hamburger".

As many of you may or may not know, designing places and spaces for people isn't super easy. In fact it's a pretty hard thing to do.  The design process is often a very circuitous path where clarity is absent, ambiguity reigns and logic doesn't always apply.

I live for the smiles we can create along this challenging path and at the end when what what we've done together is finally built and ready to be used.  I smile when people move in to their new spaces and start using them.  I smile when I see people collaborating in their new buildings and spaces in new and different ways at work than they've ever done before.

The places and spaces I create in collaboration with others are mere vehicles of our every day lives.  For me if what I help to shape brings smiles and laughter, productivity and focus to others I am grateful to be of assistance.

Like I said at the beginning, it's not about the stuff, the glamour, the glitz of powerful intriguing materials, ego, being "right", being the sole creator of the's about helping people live, work and play more gracefully than before.

And, it's about the smiles we give and receive along the way.  In a way, that's what we really are left with anyway.  The smiles and the memories we make together and the work we do, the satisfaction it brings

So remember, when you get caught up in the details next time in the heat of design, don't forget to smile and be grateful for where you are, who you are working with and how far you've come together.

No comments: