Sunday, February 17, 2013

Inspiration, or How to Begin

I recently was asked to give a lecture at the AIA (American Institute of Architects), and the topic was "What Inspires You." I thought this was a very provocative topic, as inspiration comes from what we see, experience, and learn - from travel, literature, environment, color, landscape, and just everyday life. But choosing and organizing inspirational images for a lecture was a challenge.

I'm a cyclist, and can spend many hours at a time on my bike, mostly alone. I rarely listen to music while I ride, as I like silence (and like to hear cars approaching from behind). Instead, I think (and occasionally not think) while riding my bike. So, a perfect opportunity to think about how to organize a lecture on inspiration.

Out there on the road you need to be aware of the big picture as well as the immediate picture - your eyes scan the road ahead, and check the road directly in front of you in a constant and intuitive manner. It becomes a model of balance, where the big picture and the details are equally important. Like architecture. While riding and thinking and looking around, I realized that over the years I had been pinning images of what inspires me to the walls of my office: a photograph of a mule train on a mountain pass, postcards I had collected from museums, a billboard advertisement for an exhibit of Samuel Beckett, a Le Corbusier poster from 1987, a map of the world, an incongruous juxtaposition of 2 photos I had taken. I realized that I had been collecting and pinning these images to the walls of my office over many years, and the only common thread was that they moved me in some way - a sense of balance, composition, light, color, texture, scale, complexity. It just came down to intuition. 

And so, the lecture I gave at the AIA discussed basics of form, light, movement, pattern, scale, complexity, transparency, and sustainability, among others.  It began with the act of looking, and ended with the intangible of intuition. 

next blog topic:
Inspiration for the PLUShouse.

Lindy Small

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