Design Always

This essay was originally published in the December 2020 Building Dialogue Quarterly of the Colorado Real Estate Journal. 

We all engage the world from varying perspectives, and as such our world takes shape.

These thoughts are shared – in no particular order, yet in tandem - to provoke an on-going conversation, and open-mindedness, towards the notion of design:

  • It is an elusive concept, particularly when you recognize it involves more than yourself; this is what makes it a difficult task, and it should be.
  • We as ‘designers’ tend to make it personal, which can distract one from addressing relevant circumstances; we need to be very careful about this.
  • It is both process and product: developing a well-organized and rigorous method that focuses on problems, conditions, circumstances and opportunities is prerequisite to delivering quality product; specific to the arbiters of the built-environment, we are not selling commodity.

      Ambiguous Figures

      • It is most understood as a visual phenomenon, but it is perceptually all-encompassing – the grip of a door lever, the incline of a floor surface, the cadence of sound and silence, the inhale of a moment of brisk air: one should never forget this.
      • The patterns of our world and of our histories teach us much, and provide an underpinning for our efforts; let’s be careful about too much ‘future-forward’ inclinations – Louis Kahn reminds us that ‘what will be has always been’; and Alvaro Siza declares ‘Architects don’t invent anything; they transform reality’.
      • Design is about articulating strategy to reveal purpose.
      • There is a silver lining for every circumstance presented to us; we need to look harder and deeper sometimes.
      • ‘By design’ is not always true; we are fortunate that society has a heavy hand in finding the merits of our work to yield something more powerful than what was envisioned; we need to be more embracing when this happens.
      • Engaging the world is an act of design; it serves as a construct - in how we learn, work, and live; we are constantly articulating and re-arranging our interface with our community.
      • An open-ended journey, we address circumstances while sowing seeds for new conditions to arise.
      • It mimics the world in which we live – that is to say that it is inherently complex, despite our efforts to seek simple; when we ‘design’ we make more than things – we are forging systems, strategies, and stories.

      Without question there are more points to be made; design is ever-present in shaping our daily deliberations. It is motivator, enabler and aspiration all at once.

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