Inspiration can come from anywhere. Nearly every design challenge begins with some exploration and search for inspiration. Today, Rachel Hampton shares about where she finds inspiration.
Photo Credit: Daily Beast
Humor. The ability to perceive that which is amusing informs my design philosophy daily. Its effect is subtle – I don’t try to draft up a millwork detail that makes a Principal fall on the ground with laughter, and I’m certainly not channeling Michelle Wolf when I’m talking about the trace I just pinned up with my team (that would make for a very loud and screechy discussion). Humor is not the ability to be funny per se but the ability to perceive the funny in life.
As architects, we tend to tack towards gravity (why else would we wear so much black?). We take what we do seriously, and in turn, design seriously. This makes sense, as the business of designing buildings is rife with real world challenges that are, in fact, very serious. We must create buildings that can withstand a certain amount of earthquake and that will allow someone to escape to safety if there is a fire. We contend with the risk of disastrous water leakage and ice dams, sun glare and trip hazards. How can design flourish under these burdens? Enter humor!
Humor allows ones to not take every task so seriously. Seeing the levity in life allows one to breathe – to step back and to approach design with a certain lightness and playfulness that is necessary when designing spaces that evoke joy. This stepping back creates distance, which allows design to flourish, bloom and play. It is in this space that beauty can thrive. We wouldn’t ask children to play in a serious way – this would make for boring, ill-adjusted adults. Why should we design buildings under the same constant burden, without any kind of relief or delight?
Photo Credit: Creative Commons
We all possess the skill set for humor – it’s one of nature’s best coping mechanisms. But, like any skill, our ability to recognize the awesomely absurd needs honing from time to time. I enjoy listening to podcasts or stand-up comics, and watching comedy specials on HBO or my favorite roster of sitcoms on Netflix. I still laugh out loud when watching 30 Rock, even though I’ve watched the series in its entirety at least three times. Similarly, I will still lose it when listening to Dave Chapelle’s stand-up Killing Them Softly.
In the words of George Carlin, ‘You know an odd feeling? Sitting on the toilet and eating a chocolate candy bar.’
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