Epiphanies in the Field – People & Inspiration
Last month, I wrote about the environment and how the land, sound, and light inspires my designs. How walking clients through an experience beforehand puts them in the frame and invites buy-in. It’s better for the relationship and the project.
It’s an age-old concept, but it’s one that intrinsically guides me: Design is about people. The people that live in the space. The people that inspire. The people that I work with.
I can’t do what I do alone. Sure, I can come up with the concept, but without inspiration, without partnering with my clients, and without the practical hands-on help from others it just wouldn’t happen.
The client’s satisfaction is the ultimate end-game – they are who are most important. They are going to live inside what we create, in their home. What is their vision, and how can I make that happen to give them everything within the design they need? It’s critical to have their buy-in.
We want to reframe elements they want to keep, that they value, and make it work. Moving things around, reusing what’s available, all enable the design to incorporate their emotional connections, but can still present as new ideas and a new journey, for a better experience of the elements and the space.
My team is also critical – I’m not technical, and have no desire to be.
The team I surround myself with should make me better at what I do, and they have to be the best at what they do. We need to dance to the same beat, and if there’s anything I invest more time in than my designs and what I do, it’s my people.
I’m always learning, to improve my craft and the experience for my clients. I take inspiration from everywhere I see it.
I’m about to start a project on a farmhouse in Victoria, but I’ve not seen the site yet. The owners love mid-century design and Japanese-inspired design. We are talking simple aesthetics; timber and stone, asymmetrical lines and large painted glass shoji screens.
I wanted to know more about the land and surrounding area, so I asked the owner if he knew any of the other farmers in the area. It was met with an enthusiastic, “Yes, let’s go have a beer with them, they’ll tell us some stories and they’ll tell us something about this land”.
How other people live in their surroundings and the role that the home plays in their life can inspire design today and moving forward. It can offer what works, what we could incorporate, so it’s a better overall experience and design for the clients.
It reminded me of what Jeff Dungan told me during our podcast, “It’s better to look for great people, not great places”. A house will reveal itself in the environment, and the people will reveal how to live in it.
Deriving opportunity from a space without controlling it and building on it is something that Burton Baldridge spoke about on the podcast, and the unexpected added benefits that can play out. He worked with a family that had two pieces of land side-by-side; they built on one, leaving the other to the field of wildflowers. When the owners were in the home, they could hear the bees pollinating and were privy to multitudes of birdsong.
These are the kinds of revelations that other designers have that inspire my designs, and it’s especially relevant in rural projects where other people and the land have an effect on the entire experience for the client. It can afford an opportunity to enhance the way my designs are lived in, and provide ongoing benefits for the family.
I can’t help but think about Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, inspired by the surrounding landscape of Bear Run Nature Reserve. While the design is 100% inspirational and innovative, I find Wright’s explanation curious for the placement of the home; the famous anecdote of where the family used to sit above the waterfall.
I have to wonder if observing the sacred spot from the other side of the river, as opposed to living on it, would have heightened the experience of living in the award-winning home.