Saturday, May 23, 2009

Arch Stock

Here's a bit of rant. Being in the design business I've always hated anything not original. I hate stock photography and what makes my blood boil is websites where you can buy pre-designed templates. What came first, the layout or the concept? The idea of having an idea and already having a layout really makes me sick. It is this kind of automation that takes the art and craft out of what designers and art directors offer in terms of value. Just as many creative production tasks have been shipped overseas to dirt-cheap labor I see the same thing happening to many folks who are in favor of this canned conceptual bs. The same arguement is being had on the architectural side. I think the stat is that around 1% of homes in America are architect-designed. Everyone talks about how modern should come to the masses and the conversation usually ends up centering around pre-fab. One site I just read about is offering low, low, low cost modern house plans to the masses, stock house plans.... In a modern home design project I'm engaged in we talked early on to quite a few folks exploring prefab because of what was perceived as a cost-savings. In the end though it was as much if not more to go the pre-fab route. I truly appreciated the value and services that an architect offered after exploring the pre-fab route. In the end so many things in our life are mass-produced and what makes many things special are the few things that we can have customized, made to our specifications, etc. When I saw this article I almost threw up in my mouth because it reminded me of those stock layouts devaluing the craft of being in the design profession. I think its great that design has become part of the greater conversation in this country but I do not agree that there are short-cuts. Just as you are tailoring a specific message to a client who has a brand that has specific attributes, etc. you wouldn't force that message into a pre-canned layout. Just as a home site has a unique landscape, a unique environmental DNA a one-size-fits-all approach just adds to the beige-ness of America. Houses plopped down on the landscape like they were dropped from outer space. Custom is custom and that's what makes its special. My wife pointed out an article she read in the NY Times about the art of working with your hands. It talks about craft and how true artists, creative people, designers, etc. and others in the industry that work with their hands, builders, plumbers, etc. alll have unique skills because you cannot ship hand-crafted jobs overseas. Its a great piece and reinforces why many of us got into the business. To make things. To create. To contribute.

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