|copyright Elizabeth Seiberling, 2013|
Inspiration for a performing arts center was taken from the drama that was created by the undulating fabric.
I participated in an internal meeting that asked that question. Having not really participated in a whole lot of initial design in my office I haven't had much big picture design conception other than in architecture school.
My usual go-tos in school were surroundings and history. In one project my partner and I drew a section cut through the city to help guide what the height if our building would be and find certain open spaces. We enlarged the neighborhood and searched for patterns, focusing on the voids and solids; that told us what kind of transparency made sense on the site and in the building. We got to know the neighborhood by observing their typical habits as they moved through the space and interacted with it. It was a lot of anthropological and geographical study rather than searching the internet for inspiration, though we did a little of that.
The project, a new media library in Boston, turned out to be our best and got a lot of positive reaction. If only it were real...
In other projects I have even looked to works of art as I have an extensive background in art history. Piet Mondrian helped me form a farmhouse. In his later years worked to simplify nature to straight lines. There was a lot to it, but what can't you do with that?
Upon designing a yoga center in the woods I looked to yoga positions for the overall form and feel of the space. It turned out to be long, simple and elegant.
One classmate had a knack for observing daily patterns and pathways to help her form spaces. The studies always created some beautiful artwork along the way. This gave her the opportunity to make that path more efficient, but I think it ended up shaping her project more than anything; keeping the patterns in existence and working around them.
Everything that was created had so much meaning and care found within every line that was placed on the paper. It was layer upon layer of inspiration being implemented.
I don't know if this is really how most architects operate. In practice we are guided by codes and regulations, perhaps not leaving enough time to find the deeper meaning. Starchitects seems to have that luxury, whether they use it or not, but not the rest of us.
Other avenues of inspiration come from the client, their tastes and needs. This is key as it is their environment designers are shaping. Interior designers have a lot of knowledge about the effects of color which can often help a space come together and we all look at the internet to see what others have done. With the access to sites like Pinterest, the public has a lot more avenues to see great design and inspiring features. (A few people in my company have started a Pinterest page of things that inspire the Interiors team). Charles Eames said something to the affect of: "innovate as a last resort", meaning if it works there is no harm in using it literally or for inspiration.
Inspiration is all around us, we have just to be able to see it.
Where do you find inspiration?