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June 23, 2012

Fashion in Architecture































































Fashion: Noun: A popular trend, esp. in styles of dress, ornament, or behavior.

“I hate everything that is driven by fashion. From the beginning I was hating in the 60s the American way of styling, especially cars. They changed their styling things every two years and designed new ones which is nothing to do with good design”. Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams is considered to be one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century. He is believed to have inspired the designs of iconic Apple products like iPod.


 His observation is strikingly relevant in the field of architecture.

"DESIGN TODAY HAS BECOME MUNDANE AND BANAL; FRIVOLOUS AND EFFETE. IT IS PLAYING ON CHEAP EMOTIONS, LIKE BEING THE TALLEST, THE LARGEST, OR THE MOST STUPID! BRIGHT COLORS, REFLECTIVE METALS AND USING A SURFEIT OF MATERIALS GET CRASS ATTENTION."

[Now, a word of caution: the rest of the post may not be popular among or pleasing to all readers. The observations are purely of the author (except quotes) and my honest intention is the betterment of the profession. I am deeply satisfied if the post helps any single reader (including myself) to do a self examination and/or to dig a bit deeper before finalizing or appreciating a design.]

June 17, 2012

Architects and sketching



Architects are associated with sketching long before the profession has evolved. One automatically expects an architect to sketch and explain his point. Architectural career choices are still majorly influenced by the candidate’s proficiency in sketching.

Is the skill heavily overrated? Or does it deserve the hype?

The problem starts when one confuses sketching with ‘art’. Definitely, creativity (and thus similar tastes) has its own part in shaping an architect’s career. But what one forgets in the debate is the potential of a ‘skill’ as basic as sketching which can help the professional in a long way throughout his career. It is a skill which can be learnt and mastered. A very powerful ‘tool’- sometimes the most powerful - which if used with care, can simplify many a process. It’s also a skill which is very enjoyable.


"STRIPPING INFORMATION INTO THE VERY BASICS HAS HUGE ADVANTAGES."



June 9, 2012

Can it be simpler?



  • Research shows that 95 percent of people do not use 90 percent of the features on their video-recorders – because they are too complicated. What can you tell about a family where the clock on the video recorder is not flashing? They have a teenager in the house.
  • In one country small businessmen have to cope with 16,000 laws in order to carry on their business.
  • In another country the tax laws run to 40,000 pages.
  • In another country the farmers rioted because they could not understand the new laws they were supposed to obey.
  • It is said that Ken Olsen, the founder of DEC, once complained that at home he had a microwave oven that was so complex that he could not use it.
  • An old woman spent a week in a shopping mall in Holland. She could not find her way out. She bought food during the day and slept on a bench at night.
  • Instructions for machines, computers, etc., are always written by those who know the system and are not much help to those who do not. Have you ever seen a sign on a road reading: ‘This is not the road to airport.’ Those who know the system cannot imagine the problems facing those who do not.
 There is often a much simpler way of doing things – if you make the effort to look for it. Simplicity does not just happen.

This is the opening page of the book ‘Simplicity’ by Edward de Bono (considered as one of the finest thinkers of our time). An excellent book, not only for anybody who design, but also to any who faces umpteen choices or decisions to make. We have a general tendency to complicate things, though a much simpler solution is available. Electronic goods manufacturers in Korea consciously introduce complex functions onto their products, with minor or no significance, just to make it appear better than its competitor (and it works there!).


"SIMPLICITY IS HARD WORK IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THE SUBJECT VERY WELL."




Simplicity in architecture has much finer dimensions. It, practically, makes great economical sense as well. But why most of the architects (including yours truly) do not pursue simplicity?

June 5, 2012

Make Sure it's Your Train

Accept it. Student architects are always confused about choosing the right career path. It gets all the more complicated with myriad options (and specializations) available today. Though the scene has changed a lot, I think the speech by Charles Correa more than a decade ago (Convocation Address at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, 1996) still is very relevant. I want to share his thoughts as a continuation of my post 'architecture as a profession'. His observations are sharp, as usual, and I am sure that any architect at any stage of his career will get useful (if not motivating) insights from the speech. Extracts from his talk are given below.

  
“How much we grow depends on the issues we have the good fortune to address. This brings to mind a story told to me by Arvind Talati, a young Indian architect who followed Doshi at Corbusier's office in Paris. After working for two years or so, when Talati decided to return to lndia, Corbusier (who was really a taciturn old man of over 70 by then) came to his desk and said, "l hear you are leaving – where are you going?" Talati replied, "To Mumbai." "What will you do there?" "Well, I don't know, but I'm sure I'll find a job." Corbusier looked at him and said, "Be careful, eh? Whenever you get to the station, there's always a train leaving. Don't jump on just because it's leaving. Make sure it's your train."


"SOMEONE ONCE SAID THAT ALL INTELLIGENCE IS A MATTER OF CURIOSITY AND WHAT IS CALLED 'GENIUS' IS JUST A KIND OF PASSIONATE CURIOSITY."