Starting a Design: #architalks

Every month a group of national and international architects and designers converge together on the world wide web to discuss a singular topic from their own unique point of view. This is:


We've talked about design a lot on this blog. Most recently we talked about how good design saves you, the client, money. But Design, for us as architects, is more than the drawings you see or even the finished product. Design is not so much a "thing" as it is a process. And a good process will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Though most architects will tell you the middle is where the magic happens and the end doesn't really exist because no project is every truly finished, it is simply delivered by a deadline. But truly, the beginning of design, THAT is where the magic happens for us. It's where everything is possible, nothing is out of bounds and no idea is too crazy. But how do we put into words the first genesis, the first explosion, of design? How is the sausage made?


Any good sausage starts with good ingredients. For us the first two critical ingredients are good information and good research. Good information comes from the client and involves us asking a lot of questions. Good questions lead to good information which is the basis, the foundation for good design. And when it comes to designing within or adding on to an existing home or building research means field measurements and photographs. Lots and lots of photographs. In order to accurately document and detail a design for an existing building you have to understand it's construction through physical measurements and a record of its current appearance. If we are designing a new building that research may be images of similar designs of a particular style, magazines, design books, work by other architects, or anything else that elicits a response that we might find helpful. Once we have compiled these first two ingredients together we are ready to start mixing. I'm starting to get hungry. Are you? 


This is where things get a little messy and seem chaotic to most clients. There's very little produced that you can actually see or touch during design. Much of it is crumpled sheets of tracing paper, discarded then reconsidered then discarded again ideas that we tried to flesh out but just didn't work for various reasons that are mostly incomprehensible to everyone else but us. This is usually the part where some clients will say "you've spent all that time designing and all you have to show for it is this little sketch?" Well, yeah. You don't see the work that goes into the sausage, you just see the sausage. 

What is really going on during design is we are using the information we've gathered from the client, combining it with the research we've done either for an existing building or a new one, and mixing them with our own style and aesthetic to create something new that not only solves the challenges our clients set for us but also invokes an experience beyond the physical form of a building. Design is our art and like any good chef we need to gather various ingredients and experiment until we have created a delicious new dish. Some of those ingredients don't belong together, but we don't know that until we try, until we experiment in the form of sketches, models, pictures, more sketches, until finally we present you with a finished dish - a carefully crafted design for your new building. I'm still hungry. Who's ready for lunch?

Check out these other brilliant architects and designers who share their own unique point of view as part of Architalks.

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Slow Down. Hold Still.

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
On Your Mark, Get Set -- Start a Design!

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #35: Starting a Design

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Where do you start when designing a new home?

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
How it all begins...

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
where do we start?

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
How to Start a Design

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
."starting a design..."..

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Where do we begin?

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
do-re-mi- Design

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
First Thing's First

Tim Ung - Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Tips for Starting an Architecture Project

Steve Mouzon - The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
Starting Wrong - The Amazon Mistake