custom made simple

Christensen SketchUPWe don’t often do circles, but when we do…….the final build outs are pretty much always exciting spaces that have an energetic feel and certainly some feeling of movement! Repetition is a good thing – it can create order, balance, visual interest, and in this case helps define a sense of space within an environment. Our example here is showing our design tested within a minimalist environment – I find black and white or monochrome is often a good way to determine the design aesthetic before finalizing material selections (they are always in mind, but it’s good to exercise restraint so preconceived ideas are kept in check.)

IMG_7932-WEBThe client presented us with a program indicating that the reception staff was the core of the business and requested we highlight the work area as a centralized hub in which all office functions revolved around. It was easy to immediately establish a “hub and spokes” design motif and run with it. The challenge was not getting carried away and losing sight of the very fact that a budget existed! The form followed the function based on the design motif and thus we have a very compact reception hub (for 3 people) that is open and interactive with patrons and employees alike.

The key feature to highlight here is the use of standard light fixture components within custom made wooden blade elements. Repetition and attention to detail helped to minimize waste and make fabrication easy for the millwork supplier who was responsible for building the lights. Budgets do not have to limit creativity or be a discouragement to a designer. We should always be looking for new and innovative ways to express design. Does this light fixture cost more than an “out-of-the-box” standard light fixture – YES, but at only 1.5X’s the cost of a standard 2×4 parabolic light (typical office light) you be the judge as to whether the aesthetic justifies the added cost. “Custom” is the game we play daily as designers unless we are truly pulling something off a shelf and dropping it into a predetermined space (which we could argue really doesn’t require design.) If we keep things simple, custom goes a long way!

Designing the Solution 3 of …..

Epiq SystemsSo we previously showed the concept sketch that started the design process along with a 3D model image to convey that concept to the client. The last step prior to construction is to prepare the drawings indicating layout, materials, and detailed information so that the final installed product is reflective of the design. Without this information we would essentially be asking the contractor to guess how to build the design.

Epiq Systems
Photography by Aaron Daugherty

It’s always exciting for us when the creative process we start months or even years before finally reaches a state of completion. But it’s even more exciting when the client shares in the process with us and believes there is benefit to providing spaces that have energy in lieu of the status quo. Here is the final design installed in the break room for our client. 


On the Boards Part 2

Retreat @ Dusk
retreat @ dusk

Presenting a proposed project rendering with lighting has its challenges, but can create dramatic imagery that makes them well worth the effort. For the lake retreat we saw an opportunity to highlight the clean simple geometry and design aesthetic with such an image. The 3D model was created using Google SketchUp and rendered with Shaderlight.

For designers, it is our responsibility to ensure our clients fully understand the final product they will receive prior to a shovel ever entering the ground. Some architects still rely on 2-dimensional drawings as a way of communication along with savvy salesmanship skills – and yes it still works for some, but reality grabs ahold of an architect at many given points during their career where they must answer a simple question. Will you continue to do what you can to stay current and/or up to date with technology and your colleagues OR will you be “old-school” (whatever that means to each generation of architects?) I won’t say one path is better than the other when it comes to being an architect, but I do have an opinion for architects who have a desire to always push for bettering the environment, their communities, and the built world in which we live. EXPAND your palette of tools to stay creative!

My opinion is modeling and rendering are not a necessary evil in the profession but simply one tool by which we can creatively communicate our ideas. A picture is worth a thousand words – what better way to communicate with our client than a rendering at dusk to make educated decisions about both exterior and interior lighting? A 2-Dimensional drawing and a few pictures of light fixture just aren’t  going to cut it!

Designing the Solution 2 of …….

Ceiling Model

So here is where we go from the original sketch to test the design concept. We utilize a modeling program called Google SketchUp Pro to work quickly to generate a 3-Dimensional image for review in-house. Does it begin to address our goals that we listed in the last Blog Entry as our design guideline…? The modeled image gives us a sense of scale quickly as well as a method of requiring us to think about constructibility. Let’s face it – we still need to keep budget in mind when we work on a design solution that is creative and/or unique without a precedent to reference. At this stage we are thinking about lighting style and locations as well. A model similar to this can be forwarded to our electrical engineer to convey the direction we wish to move with lighting, and in this case for both general illumination and accent lighting of the design as well.

While not every aspect of a design gets modeled, SketchUp is a valuable tool to communicate our design ideas to our clients, and we utilize it often during different stages of design. Many times words are insufficient to describe our ideas and the last thing we want is our client scratching their heads in confusion when we can clarify design intent and ideas in a simple format similar to this.

Our use of SketchUp makes us better designers! It engages our clients during the design process. We see concepts before construction to ensure we are diligently keeping budget in mind. It allows us to coordinate/communicate more effectively with our engineers as well as with the general contractor. And….it’s fun!

Designing the Solution 1 of …….

Ceiling SketchDesigning the Solution 1 of …..

For Architects and Interior Designers, the process we use varies by both firm and individual for how we solve a client’s hurdles. It’s a creative process for us that involves a charette to discover ideas and develop a goal for the client. The goal becomes a mission statement for us where we bounce the ideas off that mission statement and constantly evaluate whether we are on track OR are we designing 180 degrees in the opposite direction? Sometimes the goal is purely function driven (Yes we do follow a form follows function mindset – most of the time,) but it may also be driven by a specific aesthetic or adherence to a set budget. Every project is different – really!

The example sketch was proposed during the early stages of design for a break room ceiling on a recently completed project. The project goals were comprised of single descriptive words for this project as a result of a full day of research and development and a design ideas charette. They were:

Clean, Elegant, Sophisticated, Simple, Movement, Energy, Creative, Responsive, Quality

So this is where we start…….stay tuned for how we engage the client on discussing this design solution and the current tools we use to convey our ideas beyond the simple sketch…..