The edge of a petal

Posted in architecture by johnsnavely on November 30, 2008

More thoughts on representation in architecture… foetal, as usual. I won’t name names, but I find that some architects (as opposed to artists) have strange ways of judging things.


So as to not offend, I’ll pretend it’s me as an example. (Apologies for going all anecdatal here…)

Let’s say I’m into Takashi Murakami: He’s cool. But when I see a building that is colorful and graphic, like FAT‘s work, for example. I give it the thumbs down: They’re not so cool. It’s as if I have two separate modes for judging stuff that I see. In my reptilian-architecture brain, architectural representation somehow gets evaluated differently than other visual input. I have an affection for the authenticity of an old wooden bass, but strive to make clean, modern design when I make walls. What?

Of course, by pointing out slight inconsistencies, I don’t wish to prohibit variety of tastes. Quite the opposite, I think architects would feel a certain relief if they tried to unify their judgments a bit.

Why couldn’t architectural drawings and models look like Murakami prints? Or just more like the stuff that you (the architect) likes?

When I look at my own work and it’s a failure, which happens often, there are two culprits to blame.

One: I didn’t work hard enough. (Michel Gondry said at a talk at MIT that when people call him a genius he would disagree. His talent, instead, was “finishing”.)

Two: My idea sucked. Why? Because the series of judgements that went into it were flawed; what I judged to be beautiful was, in fact, a steamy pile.

Sometimes one is responsible, sometimes both. When it’s the second I take a long look at the stuff I like… I try and draw a path between that stuff and my stuff. Was the original stuff stupid? Or am I just not copying it right? I try and answer these questions. Maybe I have to go look at other, similar stuff and decide if I like that too. Then I try again.

This is a pretty fun process!