11 Feb 2010
just letting you know this post isn’t really about ice…
One of the rituals when you go to architecture school is to stand in front of a bunch of people (typically made up of your classmates and other professors) and present your design. As soon as you finish presenting, your project – and how you presented your project – would be critiqued. This process is very important in the education of an architect – this is when you learn how to articulate your reasons for making esoteric decisions (click here for more on that). Depending on the style of the professors, these juries could be brutal and emotionally damaging. I can still recall from my sophomore year design studio watching “Mable McTerriblepants” (not her real name) present her design for a community bathhouse. The first words out of the mouth of the professor (he had earned the nickname Professor Chainsaw) were:
“Let me show you where you f*cked this up” (actual quote)
Oooooohh Snap! I can’t say if Mable McTerriblepants ever recovered because I don’t remember hearing from her
There were all sorts of lessons and skills that evolved from these critiques but one of the things I learned to look for was the type of comment, if not necessarily the way it was delivered. Since the professors that were critiquing your project generally were not that familiar with the intricacies of the project, they didn’t stray too often from talking about the big ideas – the Concept. It didn’t take long to learn that following the rules and playing it safe didn’t get you very far and that in the end, a successful design was all about the concept and not about the detailed fine points. If after presenting your project, nobody is talking about your big idea but rather focusing on your bathroom layout….well let’s just say that your project sucked (and that Professor Chainsaw wasn’t on the jury panel).
This lesson comes in handy almost everyday but in the course of doing residential design, it’s really useful when listening to the questions and comments of the homeowners. You can tell pretty quickly if they understand what they are looking at based on the specificity of the comments they make. If a homeowner is paying too much attention to one specific item, you know that they have latched onto something they do understand and are strenuously vocalizing their opinion on the matter in an effort to participate.
One of the most common details a homeowner will drill down into is the specifics of the ice cube. I have spent an exorbitant amount of time dedicated to ice cubes (and the equipment that make them). Square, crescent or nugget shape? Clear or cloudy? Production capacity, noise level, internal or external drain? Under counter ice maker or Freezer? This is a serious subject for some people and we take solving it seriously – but I know that no matter how much they love their cloudy nugget ice, they don’t understand what we have just showed them and that means they aren’t able to participate the way we want them to during the design process.
For the record, you can now get an under counter nugget ice maker from Hoshizaki – the gods were listening and have answered your prayers.