If you consider yourself a designer, you should design everything. There are many things I do during a typical day – designing “stuff” is just one very small portion – but I still consider myself a designer more so than a project architect. To be considered a designer, it means you need to think about designing everything … and I mean everything. I have said on many occasions that it is the little things that matter in modern design, so despite the fact that I spend more time thinking about stair layouts, trim packages, and working out the vertical dimensions of brick coursing, I still consider those things are important and they represent an important aspect of design the design process.
Successful design requires considered execution – one without the other is a disappointment and leaves whatever it is that you are designing short of achieving its potential.
When it came time to figure out some sort of award for the people who made it to the finals rounds in the 4th Annual Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition, I knew that this was something that I had to design – a paper certificate (even if it is on heavy paper) isn’t all that awesome.
Since this is benefitting a charity, I don’t really want to spend any more money on the awards than I need to … but I just can’t help but think that these need to be something special. It’s important to me that the people who have taken time out of their weekends to design and enter the competition receive something for their efforts – an acknowledgment that what they’ve done is important and greatly appreciated.
The sketch above was the initial idea that I had – a “trophy” like, vertically oriented keepsake. There are a few items that I knew had to exist on my trophy:
- Name of the event – basically where did the trophy come from?
- Date – I hope to create one of these awards for each year that I have the playhouse design competition; obviously the date is important.
- Materiality – I wanted these awards to be made out of at least 2 different materials … preferably metal and wood. (plastic/acrylic was definitely not on the list)
I had a conversation with one of the judges for this years event – sculptor Brad Oldham – and we discussed the possibility of the top portion being a die-cast representation of a playhouse – not unlike a monopoly piece. This would then sit on top of a block of wood to give it additional weight and height while possibly providing a location where I could engrave that year’s information.
In the end, this would all prove to be very costly – something that I have no choice but to keep in mind. Besides, I think the best design challenges contain some sort of financial restriction on them. Why should this be any different?
Enter in the revised design for the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition …
The image above is the playhouse I designed back in 2013, titled ‘The Birdhouse’ and of all the playhouses I have designed, this design remains one of my favorites. It has an iconic shape (if I do say so myself) and I think the profile of this particular playhouse works extremely well for my playhouse trophy design.
The new design allows me to maintain all my design criteria while substantially reducing the cost. This concept will allow me to cut out a profile from a single piece of 1/8″ think plate steel and then brake (fold) the bottom of the steel under the block of wood. This would create some dimensionality to the award while providing a place to attach the steel to the wood block. The other aspect of this new award is that each one will be unique. Each piece of wood will have its own graining pattern to it, and since I will protect the steel from rusting by applying a coat of polyurethane on it, the steel will maintain its uniqueness as well.
For now, I think the wood will be Mahogany – although the species and finish could change from year to year. I will need to do some research in to how I could possibly engrave information in to the side of the wood block, but I think I wold like to explore cutting the information out of the metal so it would be visible based on the probable orientation of the award.
Don’t kill me with comments about how bad my sketch lettering looks – I won’t be sending off sketches when the time comes to cut the lettering in to the steel. I have a friend of mine who is in the metal business and some of the best equipment in the country when it comes to cutting, shaping, bending, and forming metal and I am going to ask him for guidance and help when the time comes to make these pieces. I fully expect that cutting out the shape and bending it will be something I can manage from a cost standpoint, I am a little concerned that he might come back and tell me that it will add $1 billion dollars to my order to have him cut out the words. At that point, I will have to go back to exploring how to engrave the side of the wood block. I am only making about 30 of these awards and I am hoping to get them made for less than $50 per award …
Pretty sure I am going to be doing a lot of the manufacturing myself.
Maybe I’m crazy (specifically talking in this regard) but I think these awards will be worth having and I am hopeful that the possibility of winning one will help push some folks off the fence and get them to participate in the competition. We have a shelf in our office that is resplendent in awards – most of which are either plastic or glass. We don’t really pay any attention to them but the people who come in to our office certainly do. I designed this award thinking that it would be something I would be proud to add to that shelf … and I hope the people who will receive them feel the same way.