What’s the ultimate prize for Architects and designers?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2012 in Blog, Opinion | No Comments

Rivoli TheatreDesigners of any discipline, who are passionate about their craft, work hard and hope their creations once released into the world, will be admired and appreciated as great design. We know our work has the ability to influence a positive emotional response to those who will interact with it. I aspire to create houses my clients can’t wait to come home to. It might be made of bricks and mortar, but a well designed house can make a winter’s day a joy to be stuck inside, enjoying the feeling of the warmth of the sun upon you, as you relax and gaze out the window at your beautiful garden. If you hadn’t considered it before, design has the power to enrich our lives; from that new jacket you bought that makes you feel good, to that new couch that makes a statement in your lounge room. It gives any designer pleasure to know, that what emerged from a blank piece of paper in front of them, now brings joy to someone who experiences it.

It gets interesting when what is considered great design to one person, is not to another. We all have different tastes, and what captures our attention or admiration is subjective and will often divide opinion. This is good thing, our different tastes makes each of us unique, it brings us excitement when we discover the same interest with another, or perhaps bewilderment as we ponder how they could like something you dislike so much. No matter what you are into though, there is enough on offer for everyone’s tastes to be catered for.

However fashions change in all forms of design. Thank goodness, the 80’s brought us a great dress up party theme, because we laugh as we see once more how cringe worthy what we left the house in really was; at least the music was great. Sometimes though, for all the millions of new items released out into the world each year, a few objects come along that bucks the trends, defies fashion, follows nobody but ends up having many followers. Instead of being put in cupboards a year or two later to make space for something new, it stays on display so you can continue to look and admire it.

This is something all designers hope more than anything to achieve. Ironically though it’s something a designer actually cannot know of at the time; it’s not possible to know because it takes time to possibly achieve this ultimate goal all designers strive for. It is the greatest measure of any design’s success: and that is timelessness. When an object has bestowed upon it, this highest of design accolades, be it a building, a chair or radio, it might still look of its era, and it might not have won any awards, but instead it wins so much more, it wins the public’s admiration, and our continued desire for it for decades to come. What greater achievement could any designer want, than to know that in 50 years from now, future generations will still find beauty in their creation? I believe none.

So next time you walk past a beautiful Edwardian or Victorian house, take a moment to stop, look and admire it, and remember that it still looks as beautiful today as it did when it was built 100 years ago. But somehow, MC Hammer’s pants never stood a chance of achieving the same. One of life’s mysteries I suppose.

On my travels this week I walked past one of my favourite pieces of Melbourne’s architecture. It opened in 1940, and is one of Melbourne’s finest Art Deco buildings, the Rivoli Theatre in Camberwell (pictured above), by specialist cinema architects Taylor and Soilleaux. A fine example of how a 72 year old design, still makes me look and smile every time I pass it. What timeless pieces of design have a soft spot in your heart?

If you’re interested in learning more, I post weekly photos of examples of timeless designs on the DN Architecture Facebook page.

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