Unexpected Inspiration

Catskills Path

I’ve welcomed fresh energy from unlikely sources. I’m back to waking up and looking forward to my morning writing sessions.

The first source was Home on Apple+. A show about unique houses, the people who designed, built and live in them. The first one I watched was “Soot House” featuring a cabin in the woods for a small family. Their cabin was everything I’ve ever wanted in a space; spare, functional, minimalist. The actual space, though, isn’t the part that caught my imagination…it’s the stories of real people building something for them, combined with the artistic bend of the series. Something about plans, architecture, using different materials, being out in secluded woods, got me excited. Even the other houses I’ve watched were inspiring, especially the one in Austin built on a toxic industrial site. I literally had trouble sleeping that night; my mind was racing and I just couldn’t stop the flood of ideas and images running through my head. I’ve always been a sucker for the stereotypical architect archetype… Dieter Rams in a spare office talking industrial design, young architects in stations with minimalist desks, hand-drawn designs, etc.

Letting go of Crystal Grove also helped. I didn’t realize how much it hung over my head and stopped me from moving forward. A few weeks after trunking CG, ideas flowed. Writing wasn’t a burden and the world just seemed brighter, lighter.

Finally, the end-of-year processes for my actual job has inspired. Usually, the end of the year means painful reviews, budget denials, stress around submitting plans. We’re making big changes (for our small group) next year, with new projects, added responsibilities, lots of hiring. My team and I have to lift our heads out of the weeds and look into the distance, forcing the aperture by which I look at the world to widen.

These inspirations have common themes; planning, design, space for thinking. I used to spend more time designing when I actively wrote software; re-introducing it to different aspects of my life feels great. Less obvious themes include white space, use of form and space – I sense a symmetry between an architect designing a space optimized for warmth and efficiency, or an industrial designer designing items to do one task, with writing and creating. White space, design, the craft of using words to create a place, a feeling, an emotion. Another aspect of these inspirations is people designing and getting what they want, as opposed to accepting something else. Something about wanting a space of their own, designing and building it just makes me happy.

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