Design Style

Good design requires a team effort – and new thinking.

When people talk of design style they often refer to labels or categories such as “traditional”, “contemporary”, “modern” “high tech” “functional” “post modern” and so on. While these labels might be used to group past buildings in categories, classification of design by categories does not relate well to the realities of today’s complex and rapidly evolving culture and is not a good starting point for new design vision and new projects.

The designer needs to be a generalist who conveys unique and valuable messages in the built environment while responding to a client’s needs. The design message is achieved through a coherent and harmonious synthesis of the many factors that influence each new project, and drawing from past projects should not be a primary source of inspiration to cerate a successful new project.

The designer will use the functional, structural and technological requirements of the built environment to give an elegant expression to the message that embodies the conceptual vision at the origin of the project. A benevolent critic would probably summarize our design efforts as the pursuit of existential truth in the built environment, achieving elegance and purity of expression by conveying an unspoiled message that represents the best of the culture of our community and of our clients.

Design reflects human feelings and values and appeals to the imagination through the communication of a significant vision.

In our designs we try to help our clients to communicate successfully with society by expressing an image and a message that generate both comfort and inspiration. Rather than following someone else’s style, we strive to create a style that evolves from the personality of our clients, our vision and our aesthetic understanding. Each project is unique. The success of our past projects depends in part from their unique response to the design challenges and opportunities posed by each singular project.

Another challenge in design is that the specialist and the generalist seem to be two opposing trends in the design professions. As an example, there is a theory that an architect should be a specialist, knowing more and more about less and less, perhaps being more of an engineer with flair than an artist who makes dreams become physical reality. The specialization trend seems to be certainly winning in the engineering field, and for good reason. But, from Leonardo da Vinci to Frank Lloyd Wright, a number of famous designers who chose to be architects went beyond the notion of specialization, and we believe that they were right, both in terms of the technical and of the artistic aspects of design, as far as architecture and related design fields are concerned.

The reason we believe Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo da Vinci were right is that there are different ways to look for perfection. For designers, perfection is achieved by generating the best possible synthesis of an entire universe of factors affecting a design problem, which is always new, regardless of the number of apparent similarities with previous projects. The success of an architect does not depend from mastering all the disciplines and skills required in construction, but in choosing the right design and the right specialist engineers and construction trades to create a competent and successful design and construction team.

Good design begins with a broad-based and informed evaluation aimed at generating innovative ideas that inevitably lead to a customized solution and a new design. A designer that attacks a new design by remanufacturing a previous project will, at best, achieve a very modest solution, and at worst, repeat previous mistakes. Perfection of design is the opposite from the way of perfection of the tradesman, who will achieve perfection by going over the same work and improving its details over and over again, achieving perfection by repetitive use of skills. In fact, the art of the designer is to use knowledge to create new things, and to use the specialists for the components needed to create the new perfect product. The true designer will find and manage the best tradesmen in innovative ways, and will bring them to participate in the creation of new compositions with perfect components. This is the art of the generalist who is the designer, where the key to perfection is in the synthesis.

Design is understanding made visible.

For designers, perfection is achieved by generating the best possible synthesis of an entire universe of factors affecting a design problem.

The designer is not a “Jack of all trades”, who is by definition a poor tradesman, but a person that has achieved such culture and design experience that allow him or her to achieve a new synthesis, that is to convey a unique and important message that will be translated into a new environment or product. In ancient times it was not unusual to see the designer and the tradesman to be the same person, but following the tremendous advance in technologies and the encyclopedia of products that are being created in the modern world, it would be counterproductive for the same person to try to be both a specialist and a generalist, even if this may not be impossible. For a good designer it is necessary to practise lateral thinking and to train himself or herself to generate synthesis, rather than learn how to perfect the particular, which by necessity must be done by a good selection of specialized tradespersons.

This explains why a good designer needs to be a good project manager, and why, as designers, we favour the implementation of project management systems in the design and delivery of construction projects.