Fortunately there isn’t an actual checklist or prescribed process that must be followed to create good design; this would assuredly make the architectural process and our built environment rather stagnant and uninspired. Design projects would become repetitive and new boundaries wouldn’t be explored if a prescribed method to achieve good design existed. There may not really even be a universal definition of good design but through the constant exploration of new ideas, new materials and new means for integrating building systems into the fabric of the architecture, high quality design can be achieved.
Good design is as much about the process of working with others and the quality of problem solving as it is about the beauty of the architectural image that results from the collaborative process. The past experiences and creative thinking of the designer, along with his ability to listen to the client’s vision are what really determine the success of a design project, not pre-determined characteristics.
Those of us involved in the design industry would like to think that we have a clear sense of what makes good design; certainly convenience, durability, sustainability and beauty are all goals of good design. However, even though meeting the programmatic requirements of a specific project or design challenge is the underlying goal of the project, we know that form must be balanced with function. It’s cliché, but especially in architectural lighting design, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s glare is another person’s sparkle, uniformly lit and appropriately bright could be bland and visually overpowering to someone else. The key is to zero in on the specific needs and wants of the project at hand. Good design must respond directly to the client’s vision and a previous brilliant, successful solution may not be the right approach for a different design challenge with different goals. Design cannot impart a previous message or style onto unrelated context. The design must evolve in response to the specific task at hand and with appropriate language and aesthetics.
As difficult as it can be to clearly define an image of good design, it can sometimes be even more difficult to convey the value of design. The value of design shouldn’t be diminished based on the project type or scope; there may be a different cost to achieve good design but the value should remain the same. The designer must remember that the value of design has to be a value to the client and not the ideals or objectives that the designer might bring to the table. That value is the service, the collaboration, the listening and the problem solving that we as lighting designers can contribute to our clients to help achieve their visions for the built environment. It is not about having all of the answers and telling the client what they need, it’s about our ability to listen and help the client figure out what they want to achieve. Design is a problem solving process and good design is about solving more problems than just those asked.
As architects and architecturally trained lighting designers here at Lam Partners, we enjoy working in a field that combines art and technology to help realize our clients’ visions. Coming from architectural backgrounds, we integrate seamlessly into the design process and speak the same language. We understand the science of lighting and integrate it with the architecture to paint with light, to artfully craft comfortable, luminous environments and provide value to our clients and their designs.