It was another one of those nights. I floated out of a deep sleep to semi-consciousness. A pleasant dream stirred and dissolved in the wake of thoughts regarding real life. This slight disappointment became bitter when the numbers on the clock across the room came into dark focus. There are oo many minutes before beginning the day to get out of bed, too few to go back to sleep. I plugged in my earphones and looked up the podcast app.
The comforting familiar voices started on an early episode of the Archispeak Podcast . The hosts posed a question to the listeners “what is your passion?”
My mind raced with that subject and I realized this question is not as easy as it sounds. I am passionate about various pursuits in life. Great architecture is and has been one of those since age 7, before I knew what it was. What was perplexing about the question, “what is your passion?” was the notion of what lies at the heart of my passion for good spaces and in other pursuits. My imagination wandered the soothing podcast voices faded to background. Then the pattern unfolded.
I enjoy things that involve gear. There is something I like about equipment, kit, gadgets, tools and stuff off all kinds that facilitate activities, hobbies, sports or pursuits otherwise. Back in high school, I spent hours of outdoor fun flying stunt kites and riding a mountain bike. Kites and bikes are similar, in that after the initial gear purchase; all that is needed is a good place and the right conditions for fun to ensue. The bikes, more so than the kites, have a higher sustained gear temptation factor, with the component upgrades, accessories and apparel to acquire. Once you pay, you play. That made these pursuits fun and attractive in the cash lean years going into college. Going back even further I remember learning to hunt and fish. Both the guns and the tackle in that sporting added an element of heritage to the gear. My father and grandfathers all have passed along knowledge that spans generations of the tradition of outdoorsmen — lessons of respect for the environment, wildlife preservation and outdoor safety. These lessons are refreshed each time I pick up the old shotgun or dust off an antique bait casting reel, still intrigued that these inanimate objects can impart such vivid memories and conjure imaginations of field, stream, woods and lakes.
When I settled in to architecture school, my bike was a mode of transportation, as well as recreation. I began to explore the Oktibbeha County countryside surrounding Mississippi State University. There were woods and fields for small game hunting, including limited seasons within the confines of old growth forests in the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. Plenty of farm ponds and reservoirs held and hid elusive bass for the angling. Income from summer jobs plays into these outings in a number of ways, what with licenses, lures, ammunition, and the usual suspects of apparel and the latest accessories to show and tell on the next outing.
Every year closer to graduation brought less and less time to play. There was only the gear. A closet full of accoutrements tempted me to the lake for a day of fishing, or into the fields for a shoot. There was only the occasional deviation from class to class bike rides to bomb a trail for a quick fix or to get the kite out for a spin on a windy day. But as for a long day or weekend for the great outdoors, there was only daydreams visited while sorting through the tackle box, or taking a quick break to dust off and polish the shotgun. The scents of nitro solvent and gun oil waft while going through that warmly familiar set of muscle memorized movements — safety off, mark, shoulder, swing, lead and fire. Only the daydream dissipated with the metal ping of a dry fire followed by the continued smells of solvent and oil rather than the sharp clap of a live round sending shot to wing followed by the hot smell of gun powder and the sounds of summer slowly coming back around with recovered hearing.
Those departures were I discovered passion. It was concurrent with an evolving passion for designing and consuming experiences in the built environment. I was there, taking those daydream breaks; sharpening fish hooks, polishing glass eyes on plugs, cleaning the knurled top of a barrel rib or tracing the scroll and hatching of the etched blue steel on the side of a shotgun that my Papa bought the day I was born. There was a passion developing for the gear that went beyond having the latest and greatest or having the classic, the legacy. It went beyond having something to show and tell at the next outing. This passion was an appreciation for the craft in the gear. The design in the gear; one of a kind angles and curves sanded into an antique lure. The hand of the maker in the gear; the personality and motion that comes through in etching and scrollwork surrounding gold inlay pheasants flying the on the side of that old shotgun. The precision in the machining of the gear – the perfect little barbs that aren’t only the same flukes on each little hook but proportionally identical on larger hooks for salt water monsters as well as the micro sized fly for the tiny trout bite. Then all that has to contain immense breach pressure when a round is fired or hold a fish that is hundreds, maybe thousands of time the weight of the hook. So it has to WORK as well as look damn good.
Through thesis, graduation and now into the life of entrepreneur architecture, my lust for stuff that shows quality, boasts craft, oozes design and perhaps reeks of pedigree has not diminished. That lust also runs in my passion for good spaces. I realize, through that common appreciation that the passion has nothing to do with the physical properties, or the paraphernalia — directly.
Great design roots in the pursuit of a pleasurable intangible quality that happens when somebody uses the object or product of said great design. When I handle, operate, savor and feel the mechanics of great design, while looking at finish and inherent craft, there is excitement — aroused consumption of high quality aesthetics, integrated coupling of human and material.
Great design tells a story in an experience. That story begins as an idea, reads through an object or product and exists in the use, re-use and memory of use of that design. That is my story and I’m sticking to it. Could I you help tell yours?Other architects are telling their stories in the #Architaclks blog post series. Great reading and insights are ahead, when you click the links below.
Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture
The Secret Ingredient To Convincing Anyone To Do (Almost) Anything
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
Architectural Storytelling – It’s My Thing
Marica McKeel – Studio MM
Take the Time to Tell Your Story.
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
Architects can Improve their Marketing by Incorporating Storytelling
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
architecture as storytelling
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect
AE048: Success Through Storytelling with Bob Fisher of DesignIntelligence
Evan Troxel – TRXL
It’s Their Story
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
Architectural Storytelling: The Legacy of Design
Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio
Architecture and Storytelling are Forever Linked
Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen
THE GENERATIONAL STORY – ARCHITECTURE AS STORYTELLING
Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture
The Story of a Listener
Jeremiah Russell – r| one studio
Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
Architectural Story Books
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
Stories in Architecture