Friday, March 30th, 2012

Design has a power to transform. It can change the way almost anything is perceived. Good, bad, cheap, elegant, efficient, inclusive… can all be descriptors of design. Design has impact in every person’s life, every day. Yet most do not realize this. They go about their daily lives as if the world around them (and the design of it) has little impact on their lives.  Yet every person has the ability to recognize good design when it is evident. This goes beyond architecture. Actually most often it is not architecture, which is painful to me as an architect. But even the notion that great Design in any form can be realized and validated gives me hope also. Design can be appreciated by everyone regardless of gender, age, race or culture. There are few elements that are as innate within our genetics. But often we overlook this. Humans have generally become accustomed to unexceptional, mediocre design. Often this is at the cost of economy or some other short term element that meets an immediate expectation.  This is not to say that those items do not possess merit or a place within the realm of Design. Just that skillful, powerful design can overcome them. No, it can integrate them into the Design; Make them part of the creation without losing the impact of the whole. That is what we as architects fundamentally are born to do. True some are more adept than others; but on some level all of my colleagues have that ability or else I feel they would have not been drawn to the profession of architecture.

Design can connect in so many ways. It can promote our interaction and our solitude. Make us appreciate our surroundings or desire to leave them. It can determine the ways in which we move about our world and our lives. It can shape the way the future generations remember the past. Design can sustain an environment or destroy it. I am certain anyone reading this post can think of a great place that no longer exists. Whether you understood your fondness was about the Design of the place or not, it was. And it was Design that changed that place into something else. Design impacts you, and everyone is connected to it. It connects you to your work, your home, your neighborhood, and your communities…your friends, your families and even yourselves. Yes, exceptional Design connects you to yourself. Think about that for just a minute. The most impactful Design is that which connects you with something inside yourself. This is a common bond that all people can share through Design. It has that capacity. Architecture has that capacity. It often simply gets lost. Architecture, like many other creative endeavors, get lost, taken for granted, or swallowed up by the endless waves of our lives.


Design is a Connective Thread
Design Connects All (click to enlarge)



Architecture exists as a profession of Design.  But it is one of Connective Design. As an architect, we strive to create a connected web of all the disparate elements involved in every project. This is our skill. Architects possess the ability to view conditions in completeness and down through to the minutely detailed. This is the connectivity of our profession. Architectural design skills encompass more than constructs of mere walls and roofs, they extend into that which is beyond the shell of a building. We can think in terms of the vast connections creating the spider web of which our project is a mere piece. This web, it connects all things living and created. Our profession contributes to this on a daily basis and it is where an architect’s mind percolates. We can be masters of the connective fibers of the built and natural world, the present and the future, or the steel and the glass. Our pursuit is one of making connections. This is somehow ingrained within our genetic code. (or at least my own)  We are the Master of Connections. And we strive to create each of those interconnections in a meaningful, relevant manner.

I will close with a bit of geekiness. This is one of my all time favorite quotes from film. But as you read over it, think of it as if the master was speaking about design, architecture and the environment.

“Life creates it. Makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us… and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere…” – Yoda (1)

That force is DESIGN. That is the potential of what we can and should create.


This post was part of a blog off created for the 2012 AIA National Convention and its theme: Design Connects. It was an open ended call to bloggers to write about their views on how Design Connects. Please follow the link to read posts from other contributors.
2012 AIA National Convention Blog Off



(1)      The Empire Strikes Back |George Lucas | Lucasfilm ltd. | Wanna watch the clip?