Monday, December 15, 2008

Virtual Mood Board

Mood Board, December 15, 2008.

I took an interior architecture class years ago and learned that I am terrible at figuring out scale drawings, generating floorplans, and well, just about anything having to do with the real world practice of architecture. One thing that I did take away from the course was an affinity for mood boards, those creative collages and catch-alls that can help inspire a design solution (or in my case, an editorial solution). I began keeping one in earnest when I started editing a magazine in 2004 and I continue the tradition now that I am a freelance journalist in my own office space. (I created a design book at home as well when I began renovations four years ago; it's a growing hodgepodge of disparate notes, sketches, and clippings).

Above is a shot of my office mood board from today. It includes, among other things, wallpaper samples from Ferm Living, postcards from Ink & Wit, a ribbon from Volksboutique, a rendering of a building I'm writing about for Architect, and the schedule of public programs for the National Building Museum in D.C.

Now I've started developing a kind of virtual mood board. It began when my father, a history professor, invited me to give a presentation to his class. He's teaching the intellectual history of Baltimore architecture and it's a wonderful mash up of design and social studies. In the course of preparing my talk, I decided to create a powerpoint of images that make me happy. I thought it would be a valuable tool for introducing the idea of psychology of space. I often quote writer Alain deBotton here: "Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places—and on the conviction that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be."

For me, "architecture" is all things designed, from t-shirts to skyscrapers.

Here are some of the images that I pulled together on the fly that day of my father's class. These are things that make me happy. What about you?

The sustainable pre-fab home called Loblolly by Kieran Timberlake.

Experiments in vernacular and contemporary architecture by Bryan MacKay-Lyons' annual Ghost Lab

Bikes in cities.

A varied and walkable city block (especially one that's in a neighborhood undergoing a grassroots renewal like this one in Station North District of Baltimore).
Effective public transit.

Clever green roofs.

Re-purposed industrial buildings, like this mill in Portland, Maine, which now houses musicians and graphic designers.
European cities, especially the kind that look as though they have sprouted from the landscape. This is Cinque Terre in Italy.

The interior of my former sublet in Brooklyn.

A good city market, like La Boqueria in Barcelona.

A vibrant pedestrian life. This is Michigan Avenue in Chicago on a recent fall day.

An amazing juxtaposition: A lawn sign in Hale County, Alabama. Behind it, a $20,000 house designed by the Rural Studio in a new development by Greensboro-based non-profit, Hero.

Just about anything designed by New York-based AvroKo. Above, a key wall in the restaurant Public. Below, the interior of European Union and the graphically-branded bottles from Quality Meats.