Inspiration for YOUR Design Work

Part of your job as a creative professional is to always seek out new source material and there’s a lot of comfort i find in having some fresh inspiration just kind of sitting waiting on your desk for you to flip through books have always played a role in my design process i remember in architecture school spending a lot of time in the library mining for new ideas in daily practice though you really have to work pretty hard to make space for that and right now i’m finding that some of the most inspirational books actually have nothing to do with architecture they’re in adjacent or actually completely unrelated disciplines and i think a variety of source material actually plays an important role in your ability to surface new ideas so these are just a few of the books and things that have been lingering on my desk these days things that are inspiring me now and i hope they serve as motivation

 

and permission for you to curate your own library of weird quirky stuff so the first book up here is the photography storytelling workshop and it’s formatted as if you were taking a master class or a workshop from the author and photographer finn beals one of the reasons i like reading outside of my area of expertise is that helps me to buy associate or to find connections and new ideas from seemingly unrelated disciplines we’re always striving to tell the stories of places and our clients through our architecture and so it’s easy to overlay those concepts on our own architectural work he walks us through his process in details kind of five steps and he uses real world case studies to illustrate each one of the steps we get to read the pitch we join the shoot we watch the editing and in the end we get to see all of the deliverables and in this way it’s really a lesson in contemporary visual marketing packaged as storytelling but it is a beautiful package it does get a bit in the weeds but that’s kind of what i find so juicy about it you feel as though you’re really sitting behind the lens with him or you’re joining him in his studio and he’s walking you through his every move if you’re as invested in photography gear as i am knowing what f-stops and the specifics of a color grade they’re just deeply instructive and satisfying the combined effect of the details and the descriptions it just makes

 

you want to grab your camera and go out and shoot and i think the best manuals are the ones that teach by showing and this is certainly a standout in that genre my grandfather was a machinist and his library was filled with these little pocket reference manuals so i always keep a few around in the studio and what i love about them is the simple direct line work and the use of these impossibly small typefaces they just have this ability to pack so much utility into this kind of pocket-sized reference and just the clarity of thought and the delineation of form as you look at some of these worm gear diagrams and the different meshing of teeth and things it’s just a wonderful illustration of how simple and direct line drawing can be all right so this is from one of my favorite graphic designers aaron james draplin the sheer volume of work in this book is inspiring and i’m quite sure it’s it’s actually not pretty much everything anymore because he continues to work at such a pace and speed that it’s it’s difficult to imagine there’s this kind of humble and comedic nature to everything that’s presented in it’s all in complete alignment with draplin’s brand the ddc there’s nothing precious there’s nothing pretentious about the work it’s completely functional and it’s filled with process i just love that and and for me that’s kind of what makes it alluring and accessible i think what i love most about this is the more you dig the more you find it feels almost

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as if you took a magnifying glass to the page that there would be more somehow and i think that’s true for every thread that you chase with the ddc and i joined their quarterly field notes subscription service last year and it’s this series of sort of four custom packages that are sent to your doorstep one for every quarter and i have to say that i feel like a kid when i’m opening them and i really look forward to it they send you an email before it’s shipping out and i don’t i intentionally don’t look at what they’re going to be sending me because i want that surprise you know they found this way to make you forget about all your adult responsibilities and really just take delight in that moment you know that you receive this package in the mail and what it’s like to open that and hold it in your hand and explore it with each package they also make this little short film about the making of it and they’re just exquisite i mean they really make you appreciate all the details you know the provenance and the heritage behind the object that you’re now holding in your hands what kind of paper it is what kind of inks they’re using the printing process that they use to make it it’s just i just find it really incredibly inspiring

 

and i think too often architects you know we’ve branded our profession as this really exclusive and untouchable thing and i think there’s just so much to learn from the lessons in this book and the lessons of field notes as a brand this is an art book that forces one to see the earth and man’s impact on it from a different perspective and it’s all relayed in strikingly beautiful images that kind of paint the tale of man’s subjugating influence on our environment it’s visually stunning it’s this feast of improbable landscapes and colors and there’s actually two photos in each chapter that are overlaid with this real simple line work which decodes the forces shaping the images and this all helps to lend its scale and meaning and it’s really surprising how much is conveyed with just a few minimal graphic strokes on a half of a page the paper the cover the inlays even the delivery of the book just intensely satisfying i mean thematically

  Making a Site Model - The Outpost Project

 

it’s really striking work it’s it’s taking a problem that we have and it’s offering a candid assessment of that and then a possible way forward it’s architects looking to solve problems we’re often taking a series of different views of it we’re encircling it and we’re kind of poking at it from different angles and and this is definitely a different perspective on the world beautifully done as we’re designing it can be easy to lose sight of the idea that our architecture is really just a container for life you know no objective design is more important than the comfortable accommodation of you know our daily lives our daily routines this is essentially a product lookbook which is meant to promote a cabinetry and interiors business but it’s so completely aligned with their brand ethos that it doesn’t at all read like one from the recipes the photography and just the attention to detail that they’ve given to the book’s construction you know from the paper and the linen cover to the binding and the place mark it’s all just so beautifully done as an object it manages to convey the care for craft and by extension it suggests what it might actually be like to work with them or how it might feel to live in a space designed by them instead of highlighting

 

 

the idea that you know cabinetry or furniture or finishes are the things that matter it shows how they can support a life it’s less about the object and more about the life that it supports so this one is an architecture book i couldn’t resist i’d say as a general percentage you know architecture books account for about 20 of what i consume for inspiration so you can certainly pick apart the aesthetic here the sameness of it the slatted vocabulary and you know maybe the simple form-making employed by godzilla but i think you’d really struggle to argue with the lessons offered by the text and of course all the details that are within his thesis presented in the early pages describes his penchant for inventing solutions and that’s kind of a core tenet i think we can all strive for he stands manifestly against the assemblage of parts and pieces that comprise much of architectural design today whereby the designer just composes the work by bolting together say different pre-manufactured systems like windows doors materials and fixtures instead he strives for novel solutions these invented solutions to specific problems and i personally happen to really like the kind of slatted gauzy exteriors and the rendered effects of all the light and shadow but i’ll admit i’ve never visited one of his homes so i can’t say for sure what the actual physical effect would be the book also delivers something i see so rarely in monographs these days hand-delineated construction documents and along with it there’s certainly lots of process so this is a book you can pick up at any time and get som

  Making a Site Model - The Outpost Project

ething out of it in just a few minutes the succinct kind of real world tales read as parables they’re instructive they’re genuine the questions asked and the answers offered are they’re often so completely obvious i just find myself repeating yeah of course that’s absolutely true for example there’s this story about imperfect mirrors you know we’re naturally bad at mirroring exactly the work of others so as we find work we like it’s fine to make an attempt at copying it and it’s in this process that the imperfections and flaws of our own abilities to copy will turn the work into something unique to us so rather than plagiarism this imperfection begins to describe our tendency to kind of recombine using our own personalized filters

 

and if that is not a system for making work in this world i don’t know what is in this book lie not only the instructions for but the permission to create the white space necessary for living life of purpose and as a sole practitioner i have to say that’s helped me change my business from one that was reactive in the past reacting to situations answering the needs of others to one of intentional action and saying no to the priorities of others is the one thing that’s had the largest contribution to the growth and success of my business now one way of documenting your evolving and changing tastes if you’re anything like me is to create a now page that’s a dedicated page on your website and that’s actually something that was directly inspired by derek sivers and if you look at his now page you can always see he’s updating it all the time and i’ve just started doing this but when it’s time to update it i like to copy it so that i don’t actually lose a record of all the sort of current inspirations and that way i can kind of keep a running archive of how things have changed over time you

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