Sunday, April 13, 2008

You Like That? Really?

After nearly 14 years in the same space, it was time for a redo. What began over a year ago as a plan to upgrade parts of our office has grown into a project that includes new rooms, new lighting and virtually no surface untouched. We're looking forward to the end result in the coming weeks. The process has required daily decisions and focus on a lot of details. Mostly design details. This week while looking at lighting fixture options, many of my preferences were met with, "please tell me you aren't serious" from one of our designers. When I thought about it and really looked at some of my choices, I realized that it wasn't that they weren't well designed. They weren't in fashion.

This made me start to think about the relationship between fashion and design. On occasion, a young designer will show me something that I will instantly not like (not liking something has absolutely nothing to do with its effectiveness as a solution, but that's another discussion). Usually the reason is because I've seen it before -- years before -- and I connect it with old and tired (think mauve bathroom fixtures from the 80s). So I tend to dismiss some things out of hand when what I should be looking for is what the designer has done to draw from the past and turn it into something new.

The need for newness is what drives fashion. Clothing is an extreme example of this. My teenage son wears his hair and dress the way I did in high school in the late 70s. And I would guess that style has come and gone several times since then. Things that look dated and old to someone in their 40s can appear new and exciting to someone half that age seeing it for the first time.

The office design has made me think twice about the things, colors, textures and finishes we surround ourselves with. I realize that my comfort zone has been defined by what I have been used to seeing. So I have been trying to look at new ideas and old materials with an open mind. After all, nearly everything we do is some kind of mashup of what's been done in the past. I think the key is to not just redo what's already been done, but to remake it. I'm starting to really like the "new" stacked stone wall in our conference room. It kind of reminds me of my grandparents' circa mid-60s "Brady Bunch" split-level.

Copyright 2008, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

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