All kidding aside, we always encourage clients to collect images of spaces that reflect their sensibilities for their projects. As we begin the design process it’s helpful to see images to which they are drawn. Some clients come loaded with binders of magazine clippings. At the other end of the spectrum, some clients have little idea where to begin and simply focus on the project’s programmatic requirements. To clarify, an architectural “program” is a menu list of the actual spaces to be included in a project. For example, “We really need a third bedroom, a new kitchen and a S + M dungeon.”
Either approach is fine and whether they have a distinct feel for what they want or are completely open, we encourage our clients to go beyond the image and write or talk about how they might experience the spaces they desire. For example, what does eating dinner look like for you and your family. Do you want a quiet space that will be separate from view of the kitchen or do you want a more enlivened space that has less delineation between the two? Maybe a little bit of both or the flexibility and have one or the other depending on the need. Will the space be quiet, lively, contemplative, communal, etc? Images can be a portal to evoke those sensibilities.
With the explosion of digital imagery, there is an untold number of photos to tweak our collective fancy. There are some great tools and resources available to architects and clients enabling them to collect and catalog images, share notes, lists, ideas and inspiration throughout the course of a project. The first is a website called Pinterest – click the logo it to see an example of Pinterest and of our “boards”:
Pinterest is a mammoth graphic bulletin board that is easily accessed according to categories for the world to see. Members of the site (it’s free) have their own “pin” boards to which they can upload their own images, capture them easily through the “pin it” app icon that becomes part of your browser menu bar or “re-pin” images from other boards that people have posted. In short, here’s how the Pinterest website describes it:
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
Here’s an example of 361’s home pinboard page:
It’s a quick way to upload images, via a “pin it” app icon your browser menu tab allowing architect’s and clients to share and catalog ideas. Think huge online binder full of virtual magazine clippings. The beauty of Pinterest is that most images, when clicked on will link back to the original webpage from which they were cribbed, enabling users to find specification and pricing information. Hopefully the light fixture that you have your heart set on doesn’t track back to a descriptor as such: “These beautiful custom fixtures were originally commissioned by George Clooney and made by Venetian glassblowers for his Lake Como villa.” And…..keep searching.
The second website to consider is called Evernote and it too is a free site, up to a point. However for the causal user, the free use of the site will suffice. Like Pinterest, Evernote is a catalog site that allows you to store information in Notebooks that can be shared with others. It’s abilities are broader in scope than Pinterest and allow us, collaborators and our clients to share lists, images, web pages and more. Here’s a little video primer that speaks to Evernote’s abilities.
The third tool we use with clients is a screen share meeting too called GoToMeeting. GoToMeeting enables us to correspond with our clients when an in-person meeting might be difficult. Other team members such as structural engineers, contractors and interior designers can all log on and provide input with all participants reviewing the same drawing/document on their screen. This saves everyone both time and money and while not a replacement for in person meetings, it’s a great way to check in and have a meeting when needed. Here’s a visual guide:
As much as we love using these tools we caution people to remember that architecture is far more than a visual art and that “place” is the first metric by which we base our design. In other words, you wouldn’t pick up a house in Hawaii and plunk it down on the coast of Northern California. But you can use these tools to develop your inspiration and enhance our work together. And of course, they CAN also be used in preparation for that eventual phone call to 361 Architecture to design that home in Maui. Happy Cribbing…