One of life’s little mysteries is once again grabbing my attention: how do I know that what I like is what I really like?
Usually, I’m pretty certain of my tastes. Not surprisingly, as an architect with some years under my belt, my architectural preferences have become well formed. (For those interested, a glimpse of them are on view here on my blog, my website, Pinterest, and various other sites.) They reflect how I look at our built environment and, therefore, my design orientation.
These preferences, while broad, reveal to some extent how, both personally and professionally, I’m pulled toward work that expresses the vital connection we have as humans to the earth, work that celebrates that connection. Throughout this work I find an essence that speaks to my need to respond to buildings as joyously as I do to natural beauty. Some of the examples show this emphasis better than others, but with each I sense that vital intent.
Even though I may reconsider and then revise my preferences as I evolve – creativity often demands it, I usually remain confident of my choices. I’m not confused by them. I know what I like and dislike. But this is me, whose focus for many years has been discovering and exploring my architectural preferences. For those with other priorities, things are likely to be different.
If I was designing my own home, these preferences would be my guide in making the choices in planning the layout, shaping the spaces I would be living in, and, ultimately, determining what it looks like. From start to completion I’d be guided by knowing what I like.
So, what I’m wondering is this. A client asks me to design them a home. And then, almost immediately, they tell or show me how they want it to look. As we all are, they are certain of their tastes, they know what they want.
Well, as their architect, I’m being paid to be respectful of my client’s input, but I find myself wondering nevertheless: is that what they really want their home to look like? Have they checked their preferences with a critical eye? Is there a chance they’re short-changing themselves?
We all go through life continually making choices based on our personal preferences, but often oblivious, it seems, to what, on a deeper level, we really want.
We respond all the time to things around us, often without giving it any critical thought, even though the impact on our lives may be far reaching. For the most part there’s rarely any urgency or compelling reason to question ourselves. And, for the most part, we don’t like our preferences questioned.
But there comes a wake up time for everyone, a time when decisions need to be made that are difficult, that challenge ones ability to make them. Sometimes, instead of merely responding to existing stimulus, we have to make something from scratch and choose how it will look.
This is especially true when someone starts entertaining the possibility of having their own home that’s custom designed to their requirements.
Having a new home means that, among many other things, you need to know how you want it to function. But almost immediately you realize that you are also responsible for deciding on how you want it to look, and that your decision will set the course for how it will ultimately appear. You now face a blank page. What you choose to put there may have long lasting consequences.
How does someone far less attuned to the world of architecture than an architect make that choice?
Since a new home, in addition to being your place of refuge, will also reflect who you are, then how do you arrive at that big decision, one that you can live with, about what direction to take architecturally? Your decisions will set the course. So much, you realize, is at stake.
to be continued in Part-2