Monday, March 30, 2015

arts and [crafty]

architects are, and should be, crafty.

crafty in the sense that they should be clever in achieving their aims by indirect, or possibly even deceitful, methods.  now, deceitful might be going a bit far, but i love the idea of accomplishing goals indirectly.

the world needs architects, and not just in a stamped a set of drawings in get a permit kind of way.  the world needs architects so buildings are more than just four walls and a ceiling, but rather they start to take on a sense of space and become something more. a quality, which turns locations into places and boring into beautiful.  however with budgets, code requirements, zoning restrictions, short time lines and crazy deadlines sometimes beauty can be hard to achieve.  thankfully, as i mentioned, architects are crafty.  in my limited experience, i feel there are three main ways in which architects can be crafty and achieve the goal of beauty.  below are examples of craftiness in my personal life as well as professional.

using simple materials in creative ways

at my desk i would accumulate various sizes and shapes of scratch paper. hating to toss them into the recycle bin, i started practicing origami. weirdly enough, the few simple pieces i had made, inspired our office-cleaning guy to get into the game as well. soon after, i started finding better examples of origami on my desk, which i gladly kept.  i love the idea of how paper, which could have easily been tossed aside becomes something beautiful. i keep them at my desk to remind me of this.

similarly, the eames house by ray and charles eames used this idea. they used off the shelf steel parts for the structure of their house and created an icon of modern architecture. an extremely creative use of simple materials to create beauty.


growing up, my mom would save the uneaten heels of bread in our freezer.  when enough of these frozen bags had accumulated, she would take the heels and make amazing bread pudding. not only that, but the unused bags would then become my lunch bags.  as a punk 12-year-old kid i hated this, as i had to constantly answer questions from classmates on why i had brought bread for lunch. luckily as an adult i realize my mom was simply reusing the bags because it was easy, simple and saved money. oddly enough i still find myself saving these bags and heels even though i don’t make bread pudding nor take my lunch in the bags.

the house of dance of feathers was a project i worked on after college.  we rebuilt a backyard museum in the lower ninth ward, which had been destroyed by hurricane katrina.  we had a tiny budget and had to scavenge for nearly every material we used. we gathered donations from companies, salvaged old parts and equipment and reused building scrapes. we saved and used everything. we were desperate, without the luxury of a budget. we had no choice but to be crafty.


i was told as an architecture student that good proportions don’t cost any money. when you factor in the cost of materials this might not be entirely true, but it’s close. getting the height and width of a building right is priceless.  there’s a feeling you get when you walk into a well-proportioned space that just feels right.  in my young experience i’m not sure i’ve ever designed a beautifully proportioned space, but it’s always a goal. it’s a crafty way to achieve beauty in the face of restrictions.

i also use good proportions in my personal life. at 5’-10” and 200lbs i’m a stocky guy. however i’ve discovered if i wear my redwing boots, i add just a bit more height, evening out my proportions. not only do they give they give me height, but the seem to be the hipster shoe of choice, keeping me fashionable as well. arguably not spending any more money than a good pair of dress shoes and great for the job site. using craftiness to achieve beauty….

well… maybe not beauty…but at least another inch.

simple materials in creative ways, reusing materials and good proportions.

stay crafty my friends.

other architects talking about being crafty.

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect
Architects are Crafty

Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture
On the Craft of Drafting: A Lament

Marica McKeel - Studio MM
Why I Love My Craft: Residential Architecture

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet
Master Your Craft - A Tale of Architecture and Beer

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
panel craft

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect
How to Craft an Effective Blog Post in 90 Minutes or Less

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC
Oh, you crafty!

Rosa Sheng - Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project
Which Craft?

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC
Crafty-in Architecture as a Craft

Ghost Lab

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect
Underhanded Evil Schemes

Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture

Cindy Black - Rick & Cindy Black Architects
merging architecture and craftiness

Tara Imani, AIA, CSI - Indigo Architec
 Crafting A twitter Sabbatical


Jonathan Brown said...

"Proportions don’t cost any money" I like that a lot. There is definitely a craftiness in the subtle use of materials.


Mark Brandyberry said...

"Proportions don't cost money" is similar to "Quality is free." It cost just as much or more to produce a poor quality product as a good one.

Also, I'm a big fan of Red Wing Iron Rangers, too. I love the story and integrity behind Red Wing, and they will, likely, outlast my lifetime.

Mark Brandyberry
Keystone Architecture