Thoughts on Design with Margaux: The Importance of a Tangible Archive in a Digital World
I recently, and by recently I mean in working mom time, was asked to present at the local pecha kucha for the AIGA's design week here in Knoxville. I've presented at these PK events before, and they are a blast, as a presenter you get 20 slides and you are allowed to talk about each slide for 20 seconds, so the format is fast yet fun - for you and the audience.
I knew this was a venue for local designers so I figured they would not want to hear about what I've been working on, I mean they are doing the same competitive work as me. So I wanted to talk about something really passionate to me, the archive.
The way designers, or really most professions, work is so dependent on computers, but my profession didn't always stare at the glowing box. We used to build stuff, work through iterations with our hands, and I feel that the art of hand making is lost. We are so enamored with the immediate satisfaction of we forget the beauty in the hand made. And for me, the real beauty of the hand made, the tangible, is it makes a phenomenal catalyst of generating ideas and problem solving, which as creatives and designers should be our main focus.
For me, I like to keep a sketchbook (or a journal), that's my hand made tangible archive. I try my best to do a sketch or two a day... now I'm not always the best, but I feel like in doing this daily I am able to really see the problems I'm tryin' to tackle and even cross pollenate solutions to multiple problems. Architect, Le Corbusier famously said, "To draw oneself, to trace the lines, handle the volumes, organize the surface… all this means first to Look, and then to Observe and finally perhaps to Discover… It is then that inspirations may come". This has really stayed with me from my education as an architect to my everyday as a graphic designer. I feel like that's what sets designers apart, the ability to look and keep records in sketchbooks.
There is something so encapsulating to have a tangible object, an album, a sketchbook or journal, a printed photograph. To have and hold these objects are sacred and for me, they bring back a flood of memories on the day that object was listened to, drawn, taken. From what the day smelled like to the weather or light qualities and it's something that invokes so much more than a quick pic on a phone or a facebook post . Now I'm not saying your home needs to be filled like a museum like John Soane's but really shouldn't be we collecting these handmade records? Their value is insurmountable compared to a mass produced object, due to the memories around it.
So let me encourage to really go out there and see the world, don't stay on your phone and tablets and computers all day. Take a minute breathe it all in and really try to see something with 'new' eyes and record that moment, keep a sketchbook, print some photos, buy an album you love instead of streaming it. I promise it will help get the creative juices flowing and it will be so nice to have those tangible memories.