Oftentimes in architecture we are challenged by a project or client to do something truly special to make a place an amazing destination. As designers, we also relish opportunities where we have the freedom to design with custom details and high end products and finishes – producing a destination focused around the architectural elements in a space.
However, an all-architecture solution is not always the best design prescription, and something else needs to happen to better capture the essence of the client, project or site. We must humbly take a step back and realize that we are not the star of the show. We are the directors of the show delivering a fantastic performance from a cohesive cast.
It is our duty to provide a holistic design package and deliver a unified experience for our clients, but we cannot always do it with just “building elements.” Sometimes, we need to design a space in order to support another primary cast member. It might be a spectacular view that wants as little obstruction as possible, a well-placed lighting design, digital media element, or one of many other options. Sometimes that piece is an artwork or sculpture.
For the recent corporate headquarters of a high profile, highly visible general contracting firm, that is exactly what was needed. Our team studied lighting solution after lighting solution, architectural solution after architectural solution, but ultimately, the obvious came forward. A feature piece of art was needed to properly capture the image and brand of this client, and it became our job to design a space to support it.
The addition of a custom art piece could do things that the architecture just couldn’t. It added personality and character. It created drama and tension. It was graphic and massive. It spoke directly to the identity of the company and inspired enthusiasm for their new brand.
Knowing what role you play in the design process isn’t always clear from the start. Sometimes, we are hired to deliver a strictly “architecture” package and be the star of the show. However, after discussing goals and developing the design, we may decide that the end result would be better if we took a supporting role. It is our job to deliver the whole design package in the best interest of the client. To do so, we can use a multitude of different tools in the design process, including lighting, materials, media and art. The power of each on the end result is undeniable. It is our job as architects and designers to ensure that the design package we are delivering is an incredible experience, no matter which role we end up taking in the process.