Old and New: The best of both worlds.
Tanggu Swan, Tanggu, China by GlobalDesign Workshop
3 Modern Realities and the Design Process
Quality design requires an effective, efficient and expressive design process, a consistently catalytic and inventive methodology. While I have continually evolved my process throughout my career, three significant and relatively new realities in the way I, and many other architects, work have combined forces to generate a highly effective process. I am excited about the results this process generates and the creativity it foments. More important is the freedom it grants us to explore and develop ever more innovative solutions.
So what are these three realities? Below is an .
It is hardly news that the computer has significantly affected the way architects work, the way we design and the buildings we build. It is certainly not new to use the software tools to illustrate and document our designs, or even to develop our ideas. We are, however, increasingly using software tools from the very beginning of the creative process. The advanced video cards of the past few years allow real time manipulation and investigation of simple model forms. We now can very quickly generate 3D mass models, or digital clay, to study form, mass and relationships in 3D. Even when working with complex urban design projects, within a few hours we can turn a sketch into a 3D mass model. We can then study our design from a variety of angles, make refinements and revisions, then immediately see the effects of those revisions. Very little time is invested in creating and revising the forms, which therefore means that we are much more free to study, improve and refine our designs in an interactive manner inconceivable even a few years ago. While the computer is frequently used as a highly effective rendering tool, we have found the ability to quickly generate, manipulate and navigate basic 3D forms invaluable.
2. International Collaborations
Combining the strengths of a variety studios made up of different peoples on different continents is an enormous challenge. It is also an extremely effective design tool. Our Los Angeles studio is able to generate and develop an enormous quantity of ideas in a very short time. Our education, variety and richness of experience, and our location within the highly creative LA community ideally position us to develop and refine compelling concepts. Illustrating those concepts in Los Angeles, however, is extremely costly. Our China studio is far more expert in illustration and presentation techniques than are we. They are also much less costly than are LA based illustrators. Collaborating internationally gives us much more time to spend on the creative process, and provides far better results.
3. InterStudio Alliances
Our work focuses on large and complicated projects with short timelines. As a result, we often find ourselves inundated with work. Further, every project is different from the last, each requires different skill sets. Yet we are finding we have to work harder for less compensation in this challenging world economy. Our response has been to develop strong collaborative relationships with a number of design studios, each with a skills and expertise complementary to ours. We can now quickly assemble the best team for each project, a team that is highly effective and efficient, and include experts in each component of each project. Though confidentiality agreements preclude us from naming names, our team includes experts in retail, entertainment, urban design and resort destinations, experts from the biggest names in each of these industries.
DigitalClay, International Collaborations and InterStudio Alliances are the new reality in our industry. For GlobalDesign Workshop, adapting to these realities has been natural and rewarding. The refinements tare revolutionary for us, and the resultant process is less stressful, more enjoyable and far more successful than any we have experienced before.
Our next post will include an illustrated case study on how this process successfully worked on one of our recent projects.
Part One: The Divide
Most in the design community reside in either of two distinct camps. Many, especially those trained as architects, consider themselves modernist or contemporary designers. Others, those with an entertainment background are of particular interest here, relate more closely to the associative, or traditional and romantic, genres. Depending on one’s point of view, the debate might be framed as rational vs. romantic, design vs. kitsch, or arrogance vs. populist.
However framed, the issue continues to generate ceaseless and heated debate. The public, however, seems to see no conflict between the two and appears perfectly comfortable mixing objects and spaces resultant of each of these concept design paradigm throughout their daily lives. Typical living rooms surround clean, crisp entertainment systems with traditional furnishings, while tract homes, increasingly historically associative from the curbside, are filled with gorgeous, minimalist tech products by Apple and others. In kitchens, stainless steel appliances live beside aged and distressed “old world” cabinetry, seemingly oblivious to the discord.
Historically themed apartment building in Rancho Cucamonga, California
Frank Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles
A few in the auto industry have grasped and successfully exploited this trend. Both the VW Bug and the Mini manage to combine the appeal of nostalgia and desire for refinement and technology, unifying these contrasting concepts to create decidedly modern automobiles that celebrate the past while looking to the future. The VW New Beetle
The New Mini
The architecture and entertainment design communities, on the other hand, remain bifurcated in two distinct camps. The architectural community is famously idealistic, and designs for the world as they believe it should be, assuming a level of sophistication that the general public typically does not care to embrace. Entertainment designers, and most developers, on the other hand, are cynical to their core, and design to the lowest common denominator, without desire to increase the public’s appreciation for the built environment. Just as movie producers have, with few exceptions, reduced film to formula, assuming the public desires little more than sex, violence and crass language, designers of all things built to entertain also frequently find success in assuming a simple and unsophisticated public.