Week of August 7, 2009

  • Belle, Toronto

    On a completely different topic, today’s Globe and Mail had an article on the house Eberhard Zeigler designed and built for himself and his family. It is a beautiful house in a unique setting. If anyone is interested the link is:

  • John Brown

    Thanks for posting the link to this article. I particularly liked the bookcase on the sidewall and how the square window and television are integrated into the bookshelves.

  • John Y

    I have two things I’d like to comment on: the first is that I definitely deal with the interconnectedness of design every day at work (I’m a web designer). I can only echo the frustration that can result when a client (or even a manager) will ask for a “small” change and then be baffled when I tell them I’ll need a few hours to make it.

    I actually started following architectural magazines and websites because I figured I could probably learn some things there that can be applied back to my own work — and I was right; I pick up all kinds of things from the architecture world.

    The second point is that I’m very interested in the redesign project for next week. I’d actually been pondering if this site would benefit from some sort of forum: I’d love to, for example, get the community’s feedback on some changes I’m planning for my house, but wouldn’t want to hijack a day’s thread to do it.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Multiple designs and iterations are important!
    Bill Buxton, designer and Principle Researcher at Microsoft, is famous for being opinionated about good design. Some of my favorite quotes: (These quotes are from my memory, I can’t quickly find the original video link any longer)
    “First get the right design, then get the design right”
    “If a designer comes to you with anything less than 5 designs, fire him”
    A few weeks ago I was buzzing through some AIA podnet episodes and someone mentioned that the AIA recommends 3 initial proposals to a client.
    Today a co-worker sent me this link to a discussion about how Apple does design. http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/magazine/6/4/you_cant_innovate_like_apple
    In the article they state Apple uses a 10 to 3 to 1 model.

    It is nice to see some many work to refine the designs when I struggle to get a single design ready to post. Most weeks I never do, but I always enjoy watching the process.

  • John Brown

    John Y,
    I am glad you are looking forward to next week’s exercise. So am I. It is a bit of an experiment so let’s see what happens and then we can decide how to proceed.

  • John Brown

    Thanks for sharing the quotes. You (and John Y) bring up an important point – design is a way of thinking that extends beyond architecture and more traditional forms of physical making (industrial design, landscapes, urban design, etc.).

    In fact, design thinking is making its way through business schools right now as a a model for how to approach problems.

    Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO wrote a really interesting article for Harvard Business Review in June 2008 called Design Thinking…


    A good read

  • Terri


    I enjoyed the analogies you drew between other arts and architecture. As a writer/editor, I too find that just moving text around or editing out this or that word or sentence doesn’t always culminate in the same flow of language. It’s not immediately apparent until after the changes are made and you can sit back and reread the whole rewritten piece.

    As a hobbiest designer (for lack of a better term) the effect of editing a space is the same; however, sometimes it can be much more immediately apparent when a door just can’t go where you intended to put it. I think that’s why I enjoy the process so much. If I were faster at the computer drafting, I’d try more approaches to the design exercises, but I’m still taking too long. I’m learning much about good design, though, so I’m not planning on quitting.

    I’m looking forward to a real project in my own hometown. I imagine I’ll be putting in some late nights just to be able to participate.

  • John Brown

    The connection to writing is a very good one to make because it is something that everyone is familiar with – at least at some level.

    I use the following analogy in my first year architecture studio to illustrate the point.

    At its most basic level (and setting aside postmodernism for a moment) a sentence has two meanings. The first is the meaning of the words. The second is the meaning that emerges from their composition in a sentence.

    The x 2

    This is just a mixture of words


    The cat is on the mat

    puts those words together in a composition that has a meaning that is different from another composition such as

    The mat is on the cat

    or perhaps more interestingly

    The mat cat is on

    The same thing can be said of the architectural design process we are exploring in these exercises.

  • Terri

    I wonder what that “mat cat” will do, now that it’s “on”? Probably eat, no doubt.;)

    John, I just read Tim Brown’s interesting, well-written article regarding design thinking in business. Thanks so much for pointing us to it. My enjoyment prompts me to suggest that we tweak the design of this website just a little and allow people to review and post relevant articles in the Ultimate Library section.

    Just this week I came upon a CanWest article regarding Quarry Park in Calgary (no doubt you’re familiar with this project) and thought the article might add fuel to the two-car garage discussion (which in turn seemed to enlarge into a discussion regarding the need for cars, etc.). But I didn’t want to post it there, because we’d all moved on from that posting.

    Today Belle and you have posted interesting links to check out, and others have done the same in discussions past (Louis posted one about highrises back in a What House Should I Buy? segment).

    It’d be great to find these in the Library, to be perused when time allows.

  • John Brown

    That is a terrific idea. Thank you.

    We have revised the terms of reference for the Ultimate Book page and I have added in a listing for Tim Brown’s article.

  • Terri

    Wow, that was fast! Thanks!

  • Louis Pereira

    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir (Scottish-born American naturalist)

    This is very true, especially when reading Cradle-to-Cradle.

  • John Brown

    Nice to hear from you and thank you for providing the source for the quote.

  • Doug Roberts

    Yes, thank you very much Louis. My lackluster memory clearly did not do the quote, or Mr. Muir, justice.

  • James Scott

    I think that is your t-shirt, The Slow Home logo with appropriate quotations.