It’s been waaay too long since I’ve posted anything.  Sorry ’bout that.  Blame it on lots to do at work and being up to my eyeballs in the double-digit-wedding-day-countdown.  (Thank goodness for all the websites telling me how many days I have left..as if I’d forget?!)  But enough about that.  That actually isn’t what this post is all about.  It’s about design.  And why we do what we do.  And about finding ways to remind ourselves of that.

I attended this year’s “Pioneers in Design” event a few weeks ago – one of the big four hosted annually by the Northern California Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).  The event is about honoring someone (or some group) that is considered to be leading the way and doing something unique as it relates to the world of design.  This year’s honoree was Clive Wilkinson, and the event included a short film about his work, followed by a Q&A session with IIDA Executive VP and CEO, Cheryl Durst.  Cheryl is always entertaining, and this time was no exception, but what I liked best was walking away with a feeling of perspective.  These events tend to rejuvenate my design spirit, and it’s what I like most about them – they force me to back up and take in the bigger picture and remember all the things that are so wonderful about design, what it can do, and how it touches everything in our lives.

Official poster from event

It’s far too easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day routine – putting out fires at work, getting frustrated with the mundane little taks.  At times like these, it’s even more important to reignite that little spark – the one that fuels the fire for choosing this profession over countless others, including all of those less time-consuming and more lucrative.  I know I need the occasional reminder.  Here are just a few tidbits I took away from Clive’s talk that turned me back in a positive direction…

1)  There are no great projects without great clients.

2)  We are extremely fortunate to be trusted to affect the spaces that people use every day.

3)  That urban design and interior design are both about how people relate to and use places; in that respect architecture is the odd man out, since it tends to be more about creating containers for space and is more static.  (I really liked his describing interiors in that way, as it’s so often marginalized by architecture.  It further supports why I switched from architecture to interiors in college – I wanted to influence the parts of space that have a more immediate and intimate impact on people’s experience.)

4)  Don’t offer “options.”  Rather than creating several shallowly developed options for clients to choose from, engage them more deeply (challenge them to be more involved) to create a solution that can evolve into something much more meaningful.  (Apparently Clive doesn’t do “options” and this is why he was fired from Gehry’s office.)

5)  “Turning the mundane into the extraordinary” – Clive was referencing a description of poetry, but using it to describe what we do…many of the tasks for which we design may very well be mundane, but hopefully we can add something to that experience to make someone’s work more effective or more enjoyable.  (We may have clients who talk about wanting to make the workspace more fun, but rarely is it beyond the assorted ping pong tables and bean bag chairs.  We should be looking for ways to enable the enjoyment of the work that actually needs to get done – not the playtime in between.)

And I’ll wrap up with a funny quote Clive shared when asked about his recent fatherhood, that he attributed to an unknown source (the quote, that is, not the baby):  “Adults may make babies, but babies really make adults.”  Cute.

So…what re-inspires you?  What gives you some much-needed perspective?

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