Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Long Live the Road Trip!

I confess – I am addicted to Google Images – a client or a colleague mentions a spot for a beer or the best pizza in town or a crazy piece of architecture and there it is in all its 1080 x 1050 glory!

What the hell am I (are we) doing?

True inspiration has yet to come to me through this screen and really touched my design soul. Sure we research new design trends, a far off hot spot or an old school hotel, but we can’t afford to stop there.
I can recall every restaurant I have stepped into and how it felt to be there because the contextual surprise, tactile nature, sounds and smells are critical to our design process. Understanding a project in context and why a designer, an architect or an artist made the moves they made is fundamental to truly understanding and learning from a design response.

There are hundreds of sites that will provide an eye full of amazing design candy, but nothing is a substitute for siting in a space and watching the sunlight cross through, hearing a crowd, touching the bar top and sinking into a bad ass banquette for a round of sidecars.

Great projects at ai3 have always started with a “road trip” full of daylong walks from spot to spot, taking in the look and FEEL of great places. Dan started by stomping through the east and west village with our friends from Holemen & Finch before we ever picked up the pen. I spent a day in a downpour walking the street of NYC with Carolyn, Neal and Steven before we even talked about the design of Miller Union. Another trip with Steve, Robby and Bill shaped our view of ALMA.

Making the effort to experience places and space in person has always paid us back. In the typical world of billable hours and deadlines it is tough to balance, but at ai3 it is invaluable and a part of our culture that fuels the design process! 

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