Our Influences

CourtyardInfluencesThis month we are going to discuss some of the many architects, artists and designers who have inspired and continue to influence out work. No design of ours ever emerges from thin air. Every piece of work we produce is a combinations of innumerable influences, so many that’s it’s almost impossible to identify who is influencing what. We’re keen to gain a greater understanding of or own inspiration in order to be able to focus it and develop it. Back in 2014 I (SE) wrote this article for student fanzine 500 Words of Design on the subject of inspiration:

Escaping the Normal

– My mind is a bit of a frantic place. I don’t really know what goes on in there nor do I want to know. New projects need new ideas, good ideas, or inspiration as some may refer to it. From initial concepts to presentation ideas, we all rely on ideas and do our best to keep them flowing. These ideas and thoughts flicker, stutter and vanish before our eyes like dodgy moves on a sticky strobe-lit dance floor. Most are ridiculous, you might even argue that they’re embarrassing but that’s fine, I like them. My ideas aren’t too dissimilar. One difference with ideas, however, is that once in a while a useful few come along and when they do they need to be seized upon and their possibilities explored before everyday distractions whisk them away into a distant and irretrievable mist.

Every creation of the mind is a product of a lifetime of experience. Connections between fragments of these experiences merge to form something ‘new’ but sometimes the right connections just don’t get made and then frustration builds. We’ve all been there; the same thoughts and ideas flying round our heads without taking us any closer a solution. This is when I need to flee from whatever may have become my normality, I need to escape the sameness. The same walk to uni; grey skies and mucky sandstone, the same evenings online; the perpetual pinterest/tumblr/Facebook/twitter cycle, the same meals; Pound Bakery pasties, the same conversations; ‘how are you?’ ‘tired’ ‘how’s your design?’ ‘scrapped it’.

The escape can be anything or anywhere just as long as it’s something different from the usual. In first year my designs were directly influenced by artwork I saw in Madrid, old women drinking coffee in the streets of Toledo and an art gallery in northern France. In second year discovering and over-listening to Lorde’s debut album while walking in the soggy fells Lake District completely changed the direction of one design, a couple of books I read more or less designed my Dalton Surgery for me and shortly after a day out in Birmingham I realised why my countless Holmfirth designs weren’t working then came up with one that did. Getting away from it all just seems to work for me. Whether it be a journey deep into the pages a book where my imagination is forced to construct whole new worlds or a trip to my best friend’s house in the 17th Arrondissement, it forces me to see and experience new things and look at old things in different and fresh ways. Even my tired old ‘indie bangers’ playlist started to sound new and interesting amidst the hustle and bustle of the Paris metro, just like it used to back in 2006. For a moment I almost believed Liam Gallagher could sing, and if that’s not inspired then I don’t know what is. –

While this article still reflects a personal approach to inspiration, we want to look in greater detail at the ideas, designs and philosophies adopted by others who we admire. We want to highlight the areas in which our designs have stolen from others and the ideas which remain influential in our design approach. Our recent submission for the Tiny Homes Competition was composed of influences from SANAA to OMMX in areas from organising the plan to the style of representation. We believe that analysing what influences us can help us identify ares where we lack ideas or knowledge.

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