60 Design Manifestos: What We Learned in 2015

Design Manifestos is an interview series that gives forward-thinking architects and designers an outlet to tell their stories and reach a broader audience. The goal of the series is to explore their influences, the evolution of their voices, and how they came to pursue their crafts.

Although the interviewees are diverse in perspective and origin coming from countries around the globe, such as England, Mexico, Germany, India or Japan, they all have one thing in common: an appreciation for the built environment and a desire to improve it. We’ve recently reached our 60th post. Through learning more about these creative individuals’ personal stories and design philosophies, we now have a deeper understanding of where the industry is headed in upcoming years.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from the first 60 Design Manifestos:


Nader Tehrani of NADAAA

“I know that many people talk about social relevance and well-being these days, but I would simply reverse that. Let us bring emphasis to how design matters, and how the architectural discipline can bring a sense of transformation to the human condition- at home, at work, and in the public realm. Great architecture really matters, and if anything, I would like to bring light to the debates and differences of opinion that make design a real protagonist in forming well-being, education and policy.”
 — Nader Tehrani

Amy Korte of Arrowstreet

“Naiveté about the unknown helps because you take on any challenge. I have a problem saying “no” to a lot of things. But, I think that’s helped me in my career. You take on the challenges, you say ‘yes,’ you figure out a way to do it, and you push yourself. As architects we need to be doing that more.”
— Amy Korte

Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos

“I strongly believe that as I look back I realize that the importance of the object is a secondary condition to the importance of the void in the city. That’s where I started understanding the importance of what makes a city. The city obviously is made by mass and void, but what’s really important and where we’ve missed many opportunities, has been addressing the void. The void is the part that we’re not hired to look at.”
— Enrique Norten

Victo Ngai

“Right now I’m still at the early stage of my career and one of the biggest fears that I have is losing the excitement. After a while all the goals that you have, have been achieved or the dream client has been fulfilled. The motivation has to come from within. I hope that drive doesn’t die out in 10–20 years. The way to maintain that is to keep evolving, keep making new stuff.”— Victo Ngai

Nils Finne of FINNE Architects

“Sometimes we actually see with our hands, we touch a piece and somehow connect to its maker. I have pursued the idea of crafted modernism, the notion that modernism must embody the care of making, the enduring value of craftsmanship, in order to acquire long lasting value and meaning.”
— Nils Finne

Alvin Huang of SDA

“As designers we’re part curator and creator, but more than anything, we are moderators of a discussion. As moderators, we identify what the topic is and how to talk about it.”
— Alvin Huang

Verda Alexander & Primo Orpilla of Studio O+A

“In five years you’re going to have an office full of Millennials and you’re going to be working differently. Companies are becoming aware of this. If they don’t have the right working conditions or space they won’t be successful. Working and living being more symbiotic is going to be a factor. That includes the work environment being healthier, less toxic. Not just environmentally but physically and mentally.”
— Verda Alexander & Primo Orpilla

Jennifer Bonner of MALL

“The exciting part about our profession is that you’ll never know everything about a building type, a building system, or properties of a material, so architects are constantly learning new things during each project. If you chose the path of an architect who designs multiple types of buildings instead of focusing on a specialization, then we are never truly experts. In a way, by embracing this disciplinary problem of endless, vast knowledge in architecture, if armed with curiosity there is a lot of potential for invention.”
— Jennifer Bonner

What We’ve Learned:

Design Manifestos has taught us that at times it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture. Maybe this means taking yourself less seriously. Maybe it means looking to other disciplines for inspiration. Or maybe it means taking a look at the past for clues on how to deal with today’s future designed environment. In the end, the evolution of architecture is what allows practitioners to succeed and connect to humanity on a deeper level for the greater good.

1. Practicing a multidisciplinary approach and being involved in diverse discussions is essential to being a relevant and successful professional.

2. Although there will be many influences along the way, following your own intuition and instincts will be the most rewarding in the end.

3. Understanding the business side of the profession, such as the power of social media relationships or new technology will increase your visibility.

At Modelo, we are committed to being a forum for designers and architects to tell their stories, their points of view and lessons learned. Here’s to the next 60 interviews!

This post was previously published on blog.modelo.io on 1/8/16.

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