Wednesday, April 27, 2011

iar 202. wi10.

The end of this semester marks the end of my experience as a 2nd year IARC student - a point in time which once sounded so far into the future. I can safely say that much of my transformation as a designer has taken place in Patrick and Claire's studio, as previous semesters focused a lot less on designing buildings and interiors. This semester, I was able to produce more work than I thought I was even capable of within the given timeframe. Coming into the semester, I had absolutely no idea that I would inevitably be participating in the design of a 16-story structure. Although our final project could have gone a lot smoother, the experience is nothing I will ever regret.

On the first day of studio, I articulated the following goals:

  • develop a better understanding of how people move, behave, and interact within interior spaces
  • develop better time management skills to reduce stress and improve the quality of my work
  • have more confidence in my work as I develop a more professional outlook on interior architecture and design in general
  • integrate the principles and elements of design more fully into my work and my descriptions of it
  • develop a clearer identity of my unique design style

Although none of these goals are fully accomplished, all have been addressed during the course of this semester. The biggest development seems to be an improvement in my time management skills. There were certainly all-nighters this semester, but surprisingly few of them. Along with time management skills have come improved confidence and a clearer perception of aesthetic quality in my own work as well as the work of others. Overall, I also have a better understanding of how interior space can be manipulated to accommodate the needs of people. I still find it difficult to pin down exactly what my design style is. As far as design preferences are concerned, I appreciate innovation in design and a more minimalist approach. For the most part, traditional design styles and decorations are no longer attractive to me, although ideas and elements can be drawn from them for inspiration.

Along the way, writing has been a catalyst for the clarification of ideas. Reflecting on my own thoughts and intentions through written language has occasionally helped to resolve ambiguities in my thought process. The conceptualization involved in narrative writing exercises evokes new ideas as one mentally walks through a proposed design. While writing one of my narratives for Jenga 1.0, I stumbled across the notion of spiraling "thought paths," which eventually led to the design of my "crystallization of an idea" unit. The idea was already in my mind; I simply needed the writing exercise to draw it out.

Writing out my thoughts led to design inspiration.

Reflective writing, on the other hand, synthesizes and reinforces what has already been learned. It helps to have learning experiences documented in some readable format so that they are not lost to time or memory.

Because they offer more learning experiences, I still prefer group projects over individual ones. My group of three (team Evolve) demonstrated a good balance of skills and strengths. I feel that our writing successfully complemented our deliverables and explained aspects of the design process. Kelly's prolific flow of ideas, Cassie's abstract thinking, and my attention to detail resulted in well-chosen words and sentences. The most appreciated learning experience came in our group of six (team Trepide), as multiple ideas and opinions came together to produce a harmonious and well-considered design. In a group of this size, a favorable outcome can be achieved, with the added benefit of five other individuals to learn from along the way.

This simple diagram demonstrates the synthesis of various ideas.

During this phase, our written group analysis benefited from the efforts of three other group members, especially Sharon's clean and descriptive writing style.

In a group of twelve, however, too many differing ideas and a lack of sufficient communication can result in confusion and discordance within a design. Although our group Portmanteau functioned well when fractured into smaller subgroups, we had difficulty deciding on anything as a whole. In the end, however, we were able to produce a respectable design. My process of writing for the prospectus helped to clarify design intentions and group responsibilities.

Following is a list of lessons I have learned or have been reminded of during the course of this semester:

  • design is a process; produce deliverables as you design, not simply afterwards
  • trust the competency and creativity of your peers; there is always something they can do better than you can, and it is important to learn as much as you can from them
  • design primarily with people in mind; mentally put yourself in the place of potential occupants of your design
  • question traditional assumptions of how designed objects should look or function
  • in writing, limit passive sentences and formulate active ones in their place (but passive sentences still have their usefulness)
  • customized scale figures are a great way to be just a little more creative! (inspired by Cassie Bradfield)

Note: Audrey Hepburn scale figure, via Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

More lessons will no doubt come to mind in the coming days. As I mentioned before, I have gained more confidence in my abilities as a designer. My writing and rendering skills have been honed, although there will never cease to be room for improvement. While holding onto my positive "left-brained" attributes (attention to detail, insistence on accuracy and carefulness, etc.), I still strive for more creativity and a superior understanding of the whole in relation to its parts.

iar 202. first year review for Caitlyn Whisenant.

Hi Caitlyn,

My name is Kara and I'm reviewing your final project!

First of all, your perspectives were beautiful - they demonstrated careful color selections, effective use of contrast, and gradation in color to represent the effect of light on physical objects. (My first year final project perspectives didn't have any of those…) I couldn't see if there were scale figures in all of them. If so, great. If not, then that's something to remember.

You made smart use of both public and private space, addressing them with equal importance. The theatre concept was interesting and really showed up in your design. Kudos for addressing both the floor and ceiling within the space.

Also, I loved your secret, "sneaky" revolving door into a private study.

The details of your technical drawings were hard to read from far away, but I understand that clarity is very hard to achieve when it comes to those. Also, I was a bit too far away, so that definitely had something to do with it. I wish I had an opportunity to see your work up close at the time of the presentation.

Also, there was that space issue that Tommy mentioned - a walkway being a little tight. From far away, it did look tiny, but again - I wish I could've seen it better.

Overall, strong work and presentation! Your voice projected well and you defended your ideas successfully.

Monday, April 25, 2011

iar 202. jenga 7.0.

For Jenga 7.0, our team Trepide merged with team Emerge to form Portmanteau. Our combined efforts resulted in a 16-story structure with a focus on the intersection of horizontals and verticals.

Physical models (photos courtesy of Kelly Harris):

gestural model of entire structure

detail model of first atrium space

miniature model of chair design; detail model of joinery method

Each of us also revisited our individual units, picking up from where we left off after Jenga 2.0.


final board

zoomed-in plan rendering

rendered elevation

window treatment


Individual essay:

Portmanteau's building complex celebrates the joinery of opposites, seen clearly through the juxtaposition of solid and void, horizontal and vertical. Diaphanous expanses of glass contrast tastefully with heavy, structural masses, creating a pleasant balance. Likewise, strong horizontal and vertical elements create a harmonious and visually engaging intersection of lines. Eames furniture and textiles emphasize warmth and human scale.

The "crystallization of an idea" unit is conceptual as well as functional, abstracting key concepts from the larger structure yet existing as a unique, livable entity. Simplicity of form and line unites it with its immediate surroundings, while a unique arrangement of elements sets it apart. The designer has placed particular emphasis on circulation as a symbol of and vehicle for intellectual journeying. In contrast to the horizontal elements of the unit, a strong upward focus leads the occupant toward a pinnacle moment on the upper floor, relating through form to the pronounced verticality of the larger structure. The etched pattern in various glass elements echos this verticality. To demonstrate a sense of gradual dematerialization within the unit, the designer has chosen to explore directional focus, physical light, and gradation of glass transparency. As one ascends, there is an increase in the amount of natural and artificial light.

Hardwood flooring is present in both levels of the unit, as are Eames DSR molded plastic chairs. In the upper level, the Eames circle textile, celebrated in the public spaces of the complex, appears on two separate cushions. Contrasting materials reflect the idea of contrast in the building as a whole; the warm wood tones and relaxed fabric pattern balance the starkness of the corian. Solid masses are joined to translucent or transparent sheets of glass.

iar 202. jenga 6.0.

For Jenga 6.0, team Trepide focused on a proposed site for our eight-story structure.

Individually, we each designed a door and a light fixture for the entry to our private unit.

exterior view

interior view