the best environment for design thinking


a question indirectly posed to me by sam kronick one late lasercuttery night, and one that i am starting to rethink this semester:

is studio really the best-designed environment for design?

what makes doing your design work in studio better than, say, in your nicely-decorated dorm room?  or the buzzy woodshop?  or one big round table with lots of seats?  or smaller, more focused conference-esque rooms?

at MIT, maybe it’s those rolling pin-uppy dividers that make it so conducive to sharing ideas.  i love walking around and admiring other people’s creativity when i’m stuck.  or maybe it’s the communalness of it all — our generous materials sharing [/mild pilfering] habits, the food table, the fridge…  or the expectation for course 4 kids to always be in studio creates an automatic sense of gathering and livability, and it becomes comforting to know that there will always be someone there if you need inspiration.

here at DIS, it’s been a little different.  our project is an exhibition space in Rundetårn [the round tower], and the smaller scale makes me feel closer to my project, knowing that what i design coulllld potentially be constructed.  interior architecture itself claims to ‘solve the meeting between architecture + individuals!’, and seems to be more about a story and some kind of feel-good humanistic journey.  and i think that’s what i love most — creating the narrative, the back story behind an experience.

but i don’t spend half as much time sitting in studio in denmark, and i wonder why.  even though there are similar amounts of design thinking to be done this semester [notice i did not say work, because that to me is all too wrapped up in the idea of production], i don’t feel as inspired at my desk.  instead, i feel inspired when i am walking around copenhagen, at museum exhibits, at the black diamond, the danish architecture center.


(i guess i didnt really answer the first question, but here’s another question anyway…one that might be worm-canny)

why is it that ‘studio’ disappears after college and grad school?  why is there not more of a studio culture in professional architecture firms?  why oh why is the education so different from the profession?


archibabble updates from michelle + jon’s ‘This Week in AD and CPH!’:

last week:  liminal spatial exchange.

this week: replace the word effect with Affect to achieve more active presences in your building; be sure to over-pronounce/capitalize the A (depending on if the term is being spoken or written).


2 Responses to “the best environment for design thinking”

  1. I understand the idea of the studio environment. It’s really different in Europe as I’m sure you’re evidently experiencing. Either way I think it really still comes down to the individual. Studio is like a think tank or some sort of hot bed of ideas like in a business board room or some ugly cubicle life. When you think about I guess that’s just the way that I guess design is just taught now a days and I guess you’ve grown accustomed to that.

    What I want to know is what did the Bauhaus studios look like? I’ve heard so many amazing things about just how liberating and just empowering the idea of taking a bunch of people and turning them into “designers” so I’m just slighty pondering to myself what that looks like.

    Either way – I think you surely know that studio is just one step in the process in which one conceives and creates things. It depends on the context of course of the nature of the project and of course down to the habits of the individual as well.

    Keep at it, can’t wait to see what you’ve got. =)

  2. 2 Sam

    Uh oh, I hope I didn’t indirectly spark a mild creative-existential crisis!

    I think I sent you my “Participatory Classroom Project” proposal. That’s the project I’m currently most focused on. I don’t have a space in studio so I’m forced to work elsewhere. What I’ve realized is that the studio is an excellent place to keep all of your physical work in one place (which is common to so many practices and studies, be it an office, workshop, or studio).

    But it’s not the only place where you can find inspiration, realize other perspectives, share thoughts, converse, or admire others’ creativity. I’ve found these things by becoming a bit of a design nomad. I discuss the ideas relevant to the project with friends in my apartment late at night, over the Internet, walking to get a drink after a lecture, in meetings with faculty set up explicitly for that purpose, with students in the school I’m working with, or even indirectly in everyday conversation with people who don’t even know they’re helping me design. And I wind up “producing” in just as many different places; drawing on my bumpy desk at home, scripting on caffeine at Tosci’s, absorbing the noise of building things in MITERS, etc, etc.

    Now, I don’t know if I’ll come up with something /better/ because of this, but it certainly will be something different. I’m trying to make architecture that’s /about/ something other than just architecture; I always felt the studio setup with its focus on visual sharing was heavily biased towards developing impressive forms, not fostering innovative concepts.

    Oh, as for my Danish design home, you’re very close to it when you’re at the Danish Architectural Center. The workshop we built WALKINGHOUSE in is right next door (Vaerkstader for Kunst og Handikraft or something like that). The boat I lived on was in the harbor just further down that street!

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