“It’s just the basement”. That’s nice. Is someone occupying “just the basement”? Does function happen in “just the basement”? One of my biggest frustrations as a designer is the mentality of those who believe there are areas of a project unworthy of design. “Just the basement” is bullshit. “Just the basement” is a copout. “Just the basement” doesn’t just look like you ran out of money, it looks like you ran out of ideas. It looks… like you are ignorant (by design).
The basement is important… to someone… to some function… to me. Design doesn’t stop because of deemed ‘unvalue’ or seemingly aesthetic badness. The experience continues… in the basement. The basement may be a space where ideas are formed. Inventions are made. Illnesses are cured. Operations are happening. The basement may be the most valuable space in a building yet it isn’t ‘good’ enough (for the naive) to have intentional light shed on it?
The “hole” Titanic sank.
If you can recall from the history of the Titanic, the “hole” ship sank. Not just the steerage deck. Bourgeoisie finishes and pretentious mentalities when right down with steerage to the ocean floor… Design is ‘hole’istic. Not compartmentalized.
All parts of space whether being built new or undergoing renovation can make an impact. And though front of house finishes may differ in price point from back of house finishes, no less thought should be applied to their (eventual) application. ‘Stark’ can still be impactful. Void too, when intention is given.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Correct, but the line shouldn’t be ‘forgotten’ (by design).
Circulation is an architectural struggle… especially for the end users. Though necessary for egress, circulation frustrates because it eats up square footage… square footage that is deemed ‘useless’ and ‘invaluable’ (except for circulating).
As designers, we need to see circulation as opportunity. One of the (forgotten) tricks in our diverse toolbox is the compression/expansion tool and it shouldn’t still be so shiny… We need to use the travel space between space as design opportunity to WOW. To surprise and to add value to the journey. As our users circulate, they experience.
Corridors (staircases? elevators?…) are a perfect opportunity for this experience. Often, as designers, we use tricks to quiet the traveler. We darken the run (with intentional finish selection), dim the lighting, space the emphasis. We use asymmetry to guide. See – design so complicated, it is ‘seemingly’ simple. This compression is a moment. A moment that will lead to another moment of expansion into OPEN. And each of these moments should be designed to be experienced.
Don’t Follow the White Rabbit… Lead Her
So, designers… next time you are designing the path to the rabbit hole (or to the basement)… think about how to better design the experience for your user getting (t)here…