Who. Am. I.?
What defines me? Who is surface (decorated) me verses conceptual (designed) me?
This question is meant to evoke a response indicative of sense of self. Throughout our lives, we are asked this question by so many… our parents, our teachers, our interviewers, our first dates. This is a “loaded” question. Its response, though heavily rooted, may vacillate. The vacillation could be a result of time, place, age, experience or even change of heart.
As products of our environments, our experiences, our educations, our trials and our tribulations, We. Are. Many. Things.
The way we define our own sense of self may not necessarily be how we are perceived by others. This is challenging. We may come across extroverted, for example, in our professions, when in fact we are introverted to the core (this is of course, about me here).
We may decorate ourselves to appear in full control when in fact we are living in internal chaos. We may be making external (design) changes strategically and steadily, (choices full of purpose and integrity) but have internally exceeded occupancy loads for safe egress.
The Opening of New Doors: Why Refurbish?
The challenge in design (as we find in life) is instilling purpose in the new. It requires modification (refurbishment) of the original concept (which at one time was just as valuable and equally anticipated) but there is, more often than not, no funding to change the existing “bones”. It is beyond the scope. It is beyond structural capacity.
The image you see above is the refurbishment of an exiting hotel lobby. The greatest design challenge in this refurbishment was heavily “rooted” in the large column grid structure. The operator requested an entry “passageway” to the check-in counter that felt “airy” (which seemed nearly impossible given the existing column radii). The radii “was what it was” as the grid supported a 35+ story hotel tower above…
So what “was” to be done? Using the design principles of dominance/emphasis we created a break in this visual hierarchy through materiality and highlight . In other words, we found the light! By emphasizing the “softness” and “submissive-fying” the “harshness” the human experience in the refurbishment resulted in one of catharsis.
Put (Close) Decoration Behind You and You too can find Catharsis
As design professionals, we must instill decoration abolition in our work. We must fight daily to separate our credited titles as designer from the un-credited title (not ours) of decorator. Design is a profession, decoration is a curtain. We much be advocates of design education so our clients understand the difference (confusion credit owed to HGTeaV). If the budget only allows for a cosmetic face lift, that too must be executed with intent – Design intent.
As a professional, We.Know.Who.We.Are.
This part is the easy part to answer. It is the passion for design that is the “weft” thread (takes a design professional to understand that term) of your personal fabric. Realize though, that it takes both weft and warp threads to create raw (Who.Am.I.) yardage.
So… as the warp threads pass over and under (and vacillate) the weft, stay strong at your weft core of creation and continue to refuse Suzie’s bullshit offer to let you borrow her lipstick (to decorate her pig).
Design with intent. It will be enough.