My office is a hodgepodge of modern and traditional, of new and old. Furniture that would not be out of place in a Patricia Urquiola design blends easily with Monet reproductions and Chinese antiques. A laptop running AutoCAD happily congress with rolls of sketch paper, scales, and a stack of green triangles. Years’ worth of art supplies, drafting tools, and computers (hardware and software) reside here. What do I keep, and what do I replace?
Maintaining relevance in the ever-changing field of design is a topic of constant discussion, and not just because of the necessity of remaining abreast of current design trends. It’s embedded in the very way we go about doing our jobs. The speed at which the technology of the architecture and design professions is changing sometimes makes it seem impossible to keep up. The thought that I need to learn yet another type of drafting software (I already have background in four), manage multiple social media accounts (since that’s how much of the world does business these days), evaluate new products…it’s dizzying. New technologies scarcely seem to last before they become obsolete and need updating to a newer version. Meanwhile I have a full-time job, plans to draw up for a fellow designer who needs an extra set of hands this month, three FF&E clients who want me to go shopping with them, and five different contractors I’m juggling on the restoration of my own home. There’s also a local design competition I’m looking to enter and a class on glass-working I really want to take. When will I have the time?
Still, before the day is done I’ll have retreated to my favorite sunlit corner with my roll of paper and favorite sketching pens to solve my design problems the old fashioned way: by hand. Technology is awesome, and makes many aspects of our job much easier than in years past, but there’s still something to be said for doing things the ‘old fashioned’ way: it’s relaxing, in a way that spending hours in front of the computer is not, and it gets the creative juices flowing. It’s the best of both worlds: not abandoning but evolving. And it’s a pretty exciting place to be.