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special encore webinar presentation

Register for the FREE Special Encore Webinar Presentation that will teach you three techniques for creating extraordinary design concepts that outsmart problem complexity.


The Gap between Your Creative Vision and Design Tools


Maria Lorena Lehman


Founder — Sensing Architecture ® Academy

‍Image Credit: © apinan | Fotolia

Closing the Gap to Push Your Concept Vision

The relationship between one’s creative vision and creative tools is very important. Each informs the other, and each is dependent upon the other to realize a design vision. As new design process tools emerge, new ways of thinking about concept design will surface. Conversely, as designers envision new and exciting concept design futures, new design process tools will be invented.

As architects, often there is a gap between the vision for a building design and the existence of materials available with which it can be built. Yet, the gap between creative vision and creative tools is also just as important --- but in a different way.

For example, as architectural spaces become more adaptive, a new kind of complexity enters the design process. It becomes more difficult to fully “see” your design vision, in all of its dimensions for impact of interaction and subsequent occupant response. Thus, design tools to help architects better understand the sensorial implications of their interactive environments would be most beneficial. For instance, a real-time “gaming” tool tailored for architects would help designers create more harmonious and value-emitting spaces.

Unlock Your Vision by Switching Design Tools

As you design your architecture, be sure to not only push what your design tools can do, but also do not let your creative vision be limited by your tools. You can expand your visions and concepts by allowing yourself to switch tools. For example, if a 3D modeling software is not allowing you enough freedom to explore the poetics or “big idea” behind your design, then try writing about your design. In writing, you will likely realize new concept ideas which are very different from those which arise from 3D modeling. (If you write to conceptualize a design, you may like to try modeling as well, to see if any new ideas of value surface). By switching design tools, you are able to close the creative vision and creative tool gap a bit.

Create Your Own Hybrid Design Tools

If you cannot find the perfect one tool with which to explore or express your idea, you may find value in using multiple tools to do so. This is also equivalent to making your own tools. To do this, it is important for you to be active about what it is you wish to learn or “see” in your design concept so you can push it further. For instance, you can import your 3D model into gaming software to help you envision interactions within the space. Alternatively, you can use hand-drawings together with digital image manipulation to capture more ethereal and poetic spatial qualities which your concept demands.

Let Tools Expand Your Design Vision, 

Not Limit Them

Thus, as a designer you will likely find much value in continuously exploring not only what new tools to use, but also how to use the tools which you already have in new ways. You will then be in a better position to push your design vision ---until it pushes back, and you must find or create new tools to express it. Ultimately, there is a push and pull between your design visions and the tools used to express them. And this is a great thing! Innovate your design process by letting each push and pull the other forward. Your designs will benefit greatly.


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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