The Architecture Thinking Series

It happened again and immediately my perception changed. I found myself immersed and captivated. I had no previous idea, yet it made perfect sense. The complexity in thought sharply contrasted the simplistic result, but the transformation was profound.

Every now and then one gets to witness, or should I say recognize, a creative process; a way of thinking that mimics our own beliefs. We recognize in the maniacal pursuit the building blocks that will ultimately form the art echoes our own reflections and obsessions.

To design, or rather the manner in which one pursues design, is ultimately influenced by myriad stimuli: current preferences, trends, technology, social constructs and most importantly, the physical and cognitive tools at our disposal. In short, design is predominately about the things and methods in which we engage to achieve a final result. These influences timestamp architecture and reflect the ideology and technology of its inception. Often, Architects discuss the influence that painting, sculpture or music have on their work, but it works both ways and the opposite is also true. It is especially fascinating when we are surprised by the similarities in the process of another artistic discipline. The parallel manner in which other forms of creativity get expressed which mimic our own. Architecture thinking if I may suggest.

Just the other day I was recounting the coolest scene from the documentary “It Might Get Loud”. In a particular studio scene, I witness David Howell Evans (of ‘The Edge’ fame) “building” a riff. Fascinating! He did not “play” the riff, he built it. At his core, he is a minimalist and an innovator. He sounds like no other guitarist. He believes in rules and systems, and is obsessed with the mathematics of designing beautiful melodies and sound. He is not a virtuoso performer, or an interpreter, but quite literally an architect of music, arriving to the stage with a constructed fully pre-formed melodic and harmonic sound.  At the drafting table, he explains the use of layering ideas building melody and harmony through technological delay, rhythm and echo. It is a process, a way of thinking that reflects the current state of musicianship as architecture. A constructed sound only possible in this day and age. This methodology was unexpected.

To quote Mr. Evans:

Notes actually do mean something. They have power. I think of notes as being expensive. You don’t just throw them around. I find the ones that do the best job and that’s what I use. I suppose I’m a minimalist instinctively. I don’t like to be inefficient if I can get away with it… Ultimately I’m interested in music. I’m a musician. I’m not a gunslinger. That’s the difference between what I do and what a lot of guitar heroes do”.

Architecture is continuously reconciling narrative, effect, production, and technology with the grand idea of creating a desired outcome. Mr. Evans thoughts offer a prophetic warning for those in our craft: “…technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth… that’s the disease you have to fight in any creative field, ease of use”.  So very true.

Richard Davignon, Principal, Architect
Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design

Categories: Architecture, art, Opinion, Uncategorized

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