Saturday, May 05, 2018

Can we?

Photo from Venice Biennale 2014 curated by OMA
Superstudio was an architecture firm, founded in 1966 in Florence, Italy by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia. The founders had gone to school at the University of Florence with Archizoom Associati founder Andrea Branzi and first showed their work in the Superarchitettura show in 1966.
Adolfo Natalini wrote in 1971 “...if design is merely an inducement to consume, then we must reject design; if architecture is merely the codifying of bourgeois model of ownership and society, then we must reject architecture; if architecture and town planning is merely the formalisation of present unjust social divisions, then we must reject town planning and its cities...until all design activities are aimed towards meeting primary needs. Until then, design must disappear. We can live without architecture...”

Friday, May 04, 2018


For me the act of design constitutes actively engaging with all the tools at one’s disposal, sketching, model making, cad, 3d. Even while one is doing a completely banal task of drafting there are decisions being made of alignments, offsets, widths, heights, proportions. There is rationalisation that takes place of the sketch being turned into a cad plan, and while doing that there is a continuous sense of improvisation, an immersion in the design process. For me an apt metaphor to explain this process is a potter who sits at the wheel, the clay is fluid, it moves, and possibilities emerge in split second on the wheel where the potter engages with the combination of earth, water, air and gravity. This is possible only when the potter “gets his / her hands dirty” in exchange for knowledge of consistency of the clay, its fluidity, the speed of the wheel, gravity and other forces that converge on that wheel at that moment. Like construction lines in cad which may or may not be used but they record a potential that was surrendered for a better one.
When this is compared to the design profession and its hierarchy, there is an attempt to design not by engaging with the tools or the possibilities each tool provokes but through curation. An individual standing far away from the potter’s wheel trying to make pots through a set of potters! Coming from an architectural school that placed strong importance to process, I have come to believe this process is not about making an array of blue foam models by underpaid interns, but a genuine exploration by the designer and the design team. Where the lead designer if there should be one, too should actively engage with the design tools.
The design profession having split into specialisations that arrange the process of producing space into compartments and each compartment requiring a hierarchy to produce (faster+cheaper not better) efficiently, gives rise to a hierarchy which in turn creates this disjunction where the lead designer having more liability needs to split their time across 3- 4 projects, keep tabs on fee burn, alignment with the brief, scope creep, etc. In doing so despite having only say 15% of time to spare towards design process the position is consolidated through the lead having maximum say in the design process. The position is rationalised / consolidated through the design lead’s contribution in the process via curation!
No need to design, just curate design and become a designer!
When I hear people from the design profession exclaim, I do not have patience for Cad, or I am actually a “big ideas” person, or I am just so busy that I have no time for design, etc…I am alerted by this individuals genius that believes idea equals product…(ie. I just need a bunch of minions to realise my vision!)…and then I run for my life.

Thursday, May 03, 2018


For someone who has a natural tendency to sink and general angst towards beach holidays, I really loved reading two books on the sea, 
1) Un océan d'amour by  Wilfrid Lupano (Author), Grégory Panaccione (Illustrator) and 
2) Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith.