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December 4, 2013

Astronaut Pens: Not every solution is simple

"During the space race back in the 1960's, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the "Astronaut Pen". Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a pencil."

Fantastic story, right? Except that's not what happened. NASA originally used pencils in space but pencils tend to give off things that float in zero-g (broken leads, graphite dust, shavings) and are flammable. So they looked for another solution. Independent of NASA, the Fisher Pen Company began development of a pen that could be used under extreme conditions and they succeded.
As architects, we always try to emphasise the importance of simplifying our design solutions. Simplicity has its own advantages. But not every situation deserves a simple solution. 

September 14, 2013

10 Things that a creative professional should never tell a client

I was tempted to have the title as '10 Things that an architect should never tell a client'.! Not always that you happen to read an article on a different profession and wonder how aptly it describes yours. 

Couldn't resist sharing the article titled '10 Things that a photographer should never tell a client' on the December 2012 edition of Better Photography magazine, because each line was relevant to architecture profession as well. Just exchange the specifics and see how it starts making sense.!

August 2, 2013

Are you replaceable

   as an architect?

   as an employee?

   as an artist?

   as an employer?

   as a manager?

   as a mother?

   as a husband?

If so, most likely you will get replaced in near future (maybe except for the personal relationships.!!). And you have no right to complain!

For a client an architect may not only be the designer; but also a mentor, friend, technical and financial adviser, negotiator, innovator, artist and also one who care to share the journey. Her role becomes irreplaceable once client find real value other than the mundane details. Though design quality is still the single most differentiator, it is unfortunate that more often, client may not be equipped to fairly judge the quality of design alone.


April 18, 2013

What we forget when we design for public

Designing for public is always a challenge.

Be it a railway station, a cashier desk in a bank, a scooter parking area, a public library, a round-about in a busy street, or a pub, we cannot judge the design until it is used by the intended users for a specific period of time. Its very easy for designers to get carried away by the opportunity of creating something which is noticed by a large spectrum of users. We often try to "design" it such that it stands out and calls for attention.

Seth Godin observes the process of designing public interfaces in general in his blog.

First, do no harm--three rules for public interfaces

When we think of design, we usually imagine things that are chosen because they are designed. Vases or comic books or architecture...
It turns out, though, that most of what we make or design is actually aimed at a public that is there for something else. The design is important, but the design is not the point. Call it "public design"...
Public design is for individuals who have to fill out our tax form, interact with our website or check into our hotel room despite the way it's designed, not because of it.

March 29, 2013

Lulu Mall, Cochin: World of more happiness?

Surprisingly, it was 'nostalgic' for one of my NRI friend to check in to the Lulu hyper market in the recently opened Lulu shopping mall. This was the first time I heard about the feeling in a reverse situation!

Touted as the largest shopping mall in India, it stores enough of surprises and indulgences for one of the most consumerist society in the country.

Our studio was very much excited about the event not only because of the sheer chance to experience the mega mall, but because of the opening of the Mantra boutique showroom inside the mall, which was designed by us.

The mall was opened to public with much fanfare on 10th of March.

January 20, 2013

Client is always right

well, in almost all cases..!

Client is right even though he is wrong...

At one point of time every design professional realize that arguing with a client is not the way to prove a point. You may win over logic, but most of the times client will not take the advice. The case stands strong when the client in question has a very strong ego.

The subjective issues gets harder to get convinced as the fine line between logic and aesthetics mostly is a matter of better taste.

History teaches us that there is no any constant right. An absolute right today can be (and most surely) be wrong tomorrow. Your right choices are way different from the ones made a hundred years ago. A right choice in one geographic area/social fabric may not be right in another; examples galore. The glass boxes may be the right choice in a cold climate but can bring disastrous results in a hotter climate if not thoughtfully detailed. Similar is the case with different movements in art and architecture followed blindly during its times.