Saturday, February 26, 2011

Style vs Design

I had a great Google Chat conversation this morning with a good architecture school friend of mine living in Chicago. We have both always hated the word style when applied to architecture and design. It implies a sort of preconceived notion about what a space or thing should be. That's the exact opposite of design. Design is about responding to context and constraints. There's a process of study and discovery that leads to the final product - whether it be at the scale of an urban plan, a building, an interior space, an object or a graphic.

People often ask me what architectural style I like and I have to bite my tongue. I don't want to come off as a snooty designer. It's really hard to explain to people that design is not about style, though. Below is my architecture school thesis, which does not describe a style, but rather a belief system that leads me to a final design.

"Architecture has a responsibility to respond to the physical and cultural context it is a part of. The obligation of the response in my work has been to provoke the site through contrast in order to raise awareness of this context. This is done through the simplest, strongest formal act that gives the most for the least."

If we all just focus on style, no progress can be made in the world of design. We will just continue to copy out of context what other people have done, probably not understanding why they made the design decisions that they made in the first place. I hope that Minimalist is a blog not about stylistic things, but about providing people with information to tackle their own design and/or life challenges. After all, minimalism is not a style, it's a way of life.

Kristen Ziegler

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