Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Action Verbs

Speculate: To think or wonder about a subject;
^ The 20 word list I came up with to describe the interaction I want my space to convey, and some pictures of inspiration cut from magazines.
Speculation is the first step in the design process. In order for a designer to create a concept, he or she must first speculate the many possibilities. Of course, these possibilities will differ with the task. However, it is impossible to choose one concept without exploring the possibilities, and this need for exploration is a constant emphasis in our design classes. It is the reason that we make multiple iterations, use multiple medias and line weights, and read about multiple time periods in history. Speculation must consider both the elements of design as well as the context of the environment around where the design will be located, and how the design will relate to a certain time period or movement. For example, Le Corbusier believed in an architecture that matched its context. “He praised the new functional industrial design and proclaimed that ‘Modern decorative art is not decorated’. […] he dismissed past styles irrelevant to the 1920’s…” (Massey, 83). Modernism focuses on the industrial age, and how a machine can be interrelated with architecture. This connection between design and time period is obvious. Speculation not only defines present connections, but it also allows for precedent analysis. One speculates a building and considers how it relates or opposes other buildings from either the same or a different time period, which is something we’re learning to do with each step of our analysis.

Shape: To form ; to design

^ The beginning idea which will shape the process to my final piece
Speculation is a prerequisite to the shaping of a design. In order for shaping to occur, one must have speculated the possibilities and chosen one concept to stick to. After choosing a concept, a designer begins to contemplate the many parts of a design, such as placement, scale, proportion, colorway, etc. Shaping a design requires much thought process as to what’s logical and what’s not. But then it is also important to consider rules and regulations in a design. There are many things that affect the way a design is shaped: style, client, time period, context, etc. Context was what shaped Modernism: “Modernism was closely linked to economic and social modernization, and it can hardly be held wholly accountable for the sins of property speculators and government bureaucracies who employed third-rate architects to cover our cities with cheap hand-me-down versions of Modernist design.

Stretch: To spread or reach out; to draw out in length or breadth; to make tense
^ My window installation stretches the boundaries by using materials other than those specified in the assignment
Stretching is extremely important in design. No, I do not mean that a designer needs to do hamstring and arm stretches before they can come up with a good design. By stretching, I mean knowing when it’s appropriate or necessary to go beyond limitations in order to reach a certain goal or pull a design together into a whole. In studio, interior architecture students have been stretching the boundaries all year. This is because sometimes a design just doesn’t work with a linear element, or paper is not strong enough to emphasize a certain point. Part of the reason why design is so personal is because it is flexible. Sure, there are rules and regulations that MUST be followed in order to pass inspections, and these cannot be ignored or broken. However, design is flexible in that there is such a wide variety in terms of building materials, technologies, and styles, that it’s okay to push the boundaries in order to make a design successful. Frank Lloyd Wright not only stretched the boundaries of the Modernist era, but he ignored all restrictions. “Frank Lloyd Wright and other American designers could not accept the restrictions of the Modern Movement, rejecting its characteristic use of pilotis and regular blocks. In the 1930’s, Wright continued to develop his own personal style which he considered more expressive of American values” (Massey, 85). Wright ignores entirely the traditions of modernism, and incorporates his own organic style, focusing on natural values, which he sees to be more important.

Compose: To form by putting together; to produce by composition
^ My Composite Drawing for Fallingwater
Once a design is shaped, whether it’s on paper or in the designer’s head, it is then necessary to compose it, or bring everything together to form the final product. As we have been learning all year, composition is crucial in design. Without composition, the parts are more like random ingredients; there is no unity. A composition is a composition when all aspects of anything, whether it’s a building, a drawing or a presentation board, come together to create a whole. It is also easier for a designer to influence a client or audience when his or her presentation is composed in a way that makes sense. With the composition of a piece of architecture, it is important that the design incorporates some, if not all, of the elements of design. These include the common elements throughout history such as light, positive and negative space, rhythm etc. Le Corbusier creates his own composition in his buildings. He uses the common elements, but also adds elements of his own. “These stipulated that the building should be supported above ground-level by pilotis; the interior should use a free plan; there should be a roof-terrace; the windows should be large, and form a continuous element of the exterior wall and the fa├žade should consist of one smooth surface” (Massey, 80). These “Five Points of Architecture” are crucial for Corbusier in Modernism.

Energize: To give energy to [something]
^ This concept of levels is given energy through the use of color
Once a design has been composed, a designer can then add energy to her design. This can be done through choice of color, use of natural versus artificial light, shape of furniture, etc. The energy level of a room usually depends on the interaction that a designer wishes to create between her space and the person who is experiencing it. For example, a room with multiple windows that allow light in is more likely to be energetic than one that has less windows. A room with red or yellow paint is going to be more energetic than one with green or blue paint. Energy in design can also be reached through the exterior. For example, a skyscraper such as the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building has energy in that it reaches to the sky. These buildings are about speed, and speed is an important concept in the Modernist era. This had to do with the rise of the automobile, along with other machines during the industrial revolution. Le Corbusier adds energy to his machine age structures through “’the masterly, correct and magnificent play of volumes brought together in light’” (Weston, 3) through architectural promenades. This energy is made to create an experience as if one is walking through a space.

In case you haven’t already realized, I took the words on the list and switched the order. Their chronology is significant in that one comes after the other in the design process. These action verbs are five major steps to a successful design, and it’s important to follow them in order. Mistakes or “fails”, without a doubt, affect this process. One could get to the composition stages, thinking that his or her idea or design was flawless, and then make a model and realize it doesn’t work. Then, the designer needs to either go back to shaping and figure out how the design can be modified, or start all over again with speculation of new ideas. Though it may seem like these faults are hurting the process, it actually helps in the long run in the same way of “learning from one’s mistakes”. It can also make the second run through of the process a lot quicker. This theme of chronology has definitely produced an overall theme for the semester in that projects have been spread out over time in steps quite similar to those described above. Knowing these steps and taking them is crucial in order for a design to be a well-thought-out and sensible product.

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