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Archive for the ‘An Ever Changing Profession’ Category

As times continue to be tough professionally it is always good to reflect and re-evaluate on how  you work towards goals and how you lead others to do the same.  Asking these personal questions is a great thing to do every so often. No matter your line of work or your ranking in the company these introspective questions strike at the core and inspire growth. Take a gander and evaluate where you stand today and where you want to be in the future…

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In honor of the inevitable Valentines Day I thought I would send out some love in the form of online publication links…a little sweet candy goodness for your eyes. In case you haven’t heard there has been a tidal wave of online design magazines popping up in the last few years. This is changing the design industry forever and it is still unclear if this is the direction all shelter magazines are headed or if we will still have the option to receive these little printed babies in our mailboxes. However, with the fall of many of my favorite design magazines due to excessive production costs it only makes sense to create a publication that requires no printing and circulation. All that is needed is quality articles, great design finds, and an overall compelling collection of all things current in design. These are a few of my favorites that are gaining attention from every direction of the globe. Take a peek and enjoy!

Lonny

Rue

Adore

Ivy & Piper

High Gloss

Matchbook

Aren’t these fantastic! I have added links to all of them on the right link bar so check back for future updates and additional online publications.

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In researching trends, forecasts, and state of the economy addresses pertaining to the A/E/C industry I ran across my fair share of conflicting information. However, there were two common threads running through each article I read…negativity and cautious optimism. I am choosing the later of the two. Throughout history Architects have been a steady presence and a force to be reckened with. A fixture in government, counsel, community and business. We have always been relevant to the times and we have survived hard times similar to that which we find ourselves in today. We are information bearers, community stewards, creators of cities and towns, buildings and spaces. We are a united family bound by the passion for the built environment and now is not the time to give up. Now is not the time to throw in the towel.

It is true the economy crash forever changed the field I love and work in yet it is up to us to stay positive. Yes, thousands of architects and designers lost their jobs. BUT, many found employment and success elsewhere in various fields of work, some completely unrelated to construction or design. Because of our unique education and training Architects and designers are bred to be wonderful problem solvers, managers, project heads, public relations executives, client representatives, CEO’s and above all else great adapters to change. Yes, graduates of design programs cannot find work and are leaving the profession. That coupled with the massive layoffs of mid to advanced level talent will inevitably leave a talent hole in our trade in the coming years. BUT, young designers are partnering with senior firm members to gain insight, experience, and invaluable knowledge like never before. The goal is no longer the ARE but becoming a sponge so that an associate can take in all that is going around them at any given time. Yes, this is hard. Yes, this requires initiative and hours spent outside the office, unpaid, trying to keep a leg up. BUT, in the long run it will not be wasted effort. Our increasing knowledge base will contribute not only to our firm’s success and continuity but also to our professional breeding. The grooming all architects go through before, during and after the licensing process.

So while everything we counted on seems to be changing (technology, sustainability, products, project delivery methods, type of work available, level of competition, collaboration, clientele, etc) it seems that one thing remains the same…optimism.  Our profession is resilient and history has proven that. We  face challenges head on without giving in or giving up. It is time to put our best foot forward for our clients, the profession, and ourselves. We need to educate people on the value of hiring design professionals, teaching them that home design shows and shelter magazines only get you 10% of the way to quality design, if that. We need to reach out to our communities. Taking on leadership roles we can help effect change and use our leadership skills to help grow local economies because that is where things will eventually start to strengthen. (No matter what government heads say or want us to believe, change has to take root in local communities before we will ever see it on a national scale.) We need to continue this lifelong education process we started the first day we set foot in Architectural History 151 or our first year Studio. We were never promised that it would be easy, only that it would be a wild ride; one we wouldn’t want to miss.

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In the world of beautifully refined and truly unique interior finish materials I believe I have found a diamond in the rough.  I have had a lifelong aversion to carpet and dream of natural hard surface flooring throughout my place.  I have looked at the varied options but always come back to the same conclusion: real wood in the public and circulation spaces and cork in the bedrooms.  End of story right? Wrong.  There are literally thousands of options out there and unless you do your research you may shell out big bucks for a less than thrilling end product.  So imagine my surprise when I ran across Jamie Beckwith’s Collection of stunning wood floors!  Utterly chic yet with playful possibilities they lend themselves to almost any residential application you can think of.  The Projection collection can even be used as an art installation on a vertical surface for goodness sake!  Personally I dream of one day flooring my place in either a wood floor in a chevron pattern or a wood floor consisting of beautifully grained end cuts, similar to the unfinished Ash mosaic option offered by this collection.  Some of my other favorites by this brand are from the Enigma collection and include the Wave and the Sextant .  With a flooring like this you no longer need stunning art on the walls.  One simply needs to look down and see the myriad of interest happening underfoot.  So look down at your floor and imagine what you could do with these products…the options are limitless!

Photo: Jamie Beckwith Collection

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With the continued uncertainty seeping into even the smallest cracks of our everyday life it can be ridiculously overwhelming at times. It can change our mood, create stress and anxiety, and deplete us of our zest and passion not only for our professional work for our lives as well. As designers know, passion is key to opening the doors to creativity and allowing it to flow with wreckless abandon into something beautiful, something tangible, something that brings joy. We find ourselves in a world of less passion and more facts; more measurable statistics and figures that we can build up as a firm foundation. However, I do believe that passion is still out there, you just have to know where to look. You have to look at the teacher who is pouring her heart into her students, to the unwavering parents of a small child who is struggling medically in his first few weeks of life, and in artists and design professionals who are thinking outside the box and mustering up a deeper passion than they knew they contained. This is truly when creativity shines. This is when we are all tested, pushed, and encouraged to put forth our best.

Upon reading this article I was challenged to contemplate the issue of reigniting passion, and maintaining it, no matter the circumstances. By pushing through our current barriers we will emerge as stronger professionals. We will emerge ready for the next challenge. We will emerge with greater conviction of self. A few design professionals that have embraced this concept are beginning to emerge and helping to set the stage for the design profession of tomorrow. Whoever wants to be a part of that vision must reignite their passion today, right now. There is no time to waste, only greatness to discover. Why not jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride?

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With thousands of new design and construction products coming into the market on a daily basis it is easy for most to just blur together.  Thankfully one product recently caught my eye and I had to share.  Four words: Loccon Fiber Optic Concrete.  That’s right.  I have been aware of new concrete products in development that were experimenting with bendability and transparency levels but this is one of the first fiber optic options to enter the marketplace ready for project install.

According to FastCompany.com:

Luccon is made of fiber optic strands called Eska which are embedded in layers, into blocks of concrete, like a lasagna. While the blocks have the strength and weight of concrete, the fiber optics transmit light through them. But what’s more, the size of the image appearing on the other side of the block depends on it’s thickness. So, for example, Kuma (Architect Kengo Kuma) installed these blocks so that they can be looked at through the corner–and that creates a 1.8x magnification of whatever’s on the other side. Kuma hopes that the tech could be paired with projectors, to create building facades with the character of both concrete and media walls.

No that is true innovation!  Look for this product to be used in larger metropolitan areas and installations in the years to come.  Should make for some interesting and interactive architecture…always a plus!

Picture: Fastcompany.com

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Thanks to the current economic climate we are all thinking smaller.  However, the trend to streamline and maximize efficiencies started long before the current recession and has only continued to gain momentum.  People are demanding not only smaller and more efficient homes with less overall square footage, but less land and maintenance responsibilities as well.   Homeowners are learning to make do with less space and fewer possessions.  Instead, they want what they do have to be the best quality they can afford.  They are no longer throwing out their old possessions but repurposing them and mixing them with a few new high quality items, thus creating a truly unique eclectic design.  This can be tricky in that you want to create harmony and continuity with the different styles presented and make them work for the particular interior.  Keep the look light, clean, and streamlined with little clutter and you should be fine.

In addition to the mix of furnishings people are also opting to remodel and modernize their current homes rather than buying new.  I have recently been able to help some family members start a remodel of a 1930’s farmhouse and have been helping them see ways in which they can make the space what they need it to be without spending a fortune.  Remodels can have a huge impact and completely change the feel of your home, whether a complete re-do or simply moving a few walls around and reconfiguring spaces.  If you are looking to expand upon the mix of furnishings here are a few tips for creative remodeling thanks to the folks at HGTVPro.com.  Many can be done easily and on the cheap so take a look at what you might be able to do this weekend to refresh your home!

  1. Set Priorities:  Consider quality, quantity and cost and decide which two are most important to you.  There is always an area of unknown in remodeling so one of these will need to be allowed some wiggle room while the other two can help rein it in.
  2. Examine the Space:  Look at what can be done with the existing footprint.  Come up with creative solutions to use the space and you may find that no additional square footage is needed.
  3. Think in Terms of Activity Areas:  Look at how you want to live in the space and the activities that it needs to support.  Activities require space, not specific rooms, so focus on the many spatial options available to you rather than walled in rooms.
  4. Keep it Simple:  Start with the simplest strategy possible.  Architects and Interior Designers do this on a regular basis and only move a project past the simple solutions if it is absolutely necessary.  Keep it simple and the chances for a successful and on-budged project skyrocket.
  5. Study Storage:  Evaluate your home’s current storage including cupboards, closets and pantries.  Most homes don’t have enough storage in the right spaces so adding some well-designed storage in the right space can make a world of difference and oftentimes even free up some valuable square footage.
  6. Bump it out:  If needed and appropriate, bump out a section of wall to add square footage where it will be most useful.  A small bump out, rather than a full addition, can save money and give you the needed space while keeping the proportion and scale appropriate to the existing house.
  7. Add on Gracefully:  If a full addition is necessary then do so with caution and a good amount of research.  Spend some extra time to appropriately connect the look of the addition to the existing house, keeping the proportion and scale of existing house.  Seamlessly blend the old and new for continuity.  When done correctly this can add value to your home, much less some great curb appeal! 
  8. Let the Roof Be the Guide:  Let the existing roof inform the design solution to help ensure a seamless look.  The roof shape will make some options easy and others nearly impossible without it looking like a mistake. In some situations, a bump out or addition just won’t work without serious roof reconfigurations that will cost more than the project is worth.
  9. Work with Windows:  Windows help give life to a space.  They help create unique character in a room, creating a play of shapes and shadow patterns.  No matter the project, an interesting composition of windows can add personality to both the inside and outside of the house.
  10. Include the Exterior:  Think outside the box!  The most beautiful home in the world will be nothing without a landscape to support and highlight it.  Even if your exterior doesn’t need major changes, a facelift can always help.  Focus on quality rather than quantity and it will have dramatic effects on the look and value of your home.

So there you have it! If you are looking to remodel, modernize, or simply rework your spaces try some of these tried and true tricks. You will be amazed at what even the smallest measures can do!

Photo: HGTVPro.com

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