Image via 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

In the book 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School Matthew Frederick examines the difference between good and poor designers when working through conflicts. One of the key differentiators is how one handles the parti or the central concept of the project. Inevitably, there will be changes and revisions that will affect the overall vision. A poor designer will desperately hold on to the original parti even though it no longer works. As a result, they will patch problems or give up altogether on an unified design. Frederick provides a different approach:

When complications in the design process ruin your scheme, change – or if necessary, abandon – your parti. But don’t abandon having a parti, and don’t dig in tenaciously in defense of a scheme that no longer works. Create another parti that holistically incorporates all that you now know.

Good designers are fast on their feet, adapting to new situations. They will use new knowledge as a guide for where the project needs to go and will adapt their parti so it remains holistic. Good designers know that even if they need to temporarily discard their original vision, the concept may be useful for a future project and will not go wasted. A good idea is only good if it complements the whole of the project.

  • Sarah Peterson

    Great advice—love the example from a different design discipline (architecture), it really illuminates the lesson to be learned.

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