Saturday, May 5, 2007

Analogies for a professional blog - presentation vs discussion

This has been a difficult two weeks for me coming to terms with my professional "blog." As a first experience in writing on line, I realize that there is an audience. In writing this web log, I would like to share content that is substantive and of value to the reader. This feeling that I need to be putting a well-thought out essay on line each week has been intimidating for me and has slowed me down considerably. I know I am able to write about interesting ideas, but I have not found the time for doing short papers with well-thought out ideas. As a professor at a college, there are many different responsibilities involving teaching and advising students, service on university committees, service to the professional field, and professional/scholarly work. Even after teaching for over twenty-five years, I still have not adjusted to finding the time, or managing my time in a way to do all of it well.

Therefore, the addition of a web log to these activities has been difficult. I do see the value in the experience of doing the journal or log on line and will continue to attempt to integrate it into my schedule. In trying to make an entry every week, my plans have changed to include ideas that are in progress or beginning in their development. Instead of well-thought out studies in essays, that might be presented as ideas in a poster session at a conference, my new analogy for this writing is like a transcript of a dialogue in a café. It would be similar to sitting down with a colleague over a cup of coffee sharing an idea. As one does this, in an informal setting such as a café, the ideas are able to be more fluid and flexible, open to change and to collaboration.

As I continue this web log on design sketching, I will be dropping in to my “web café” to share a thought or two on what I have been working on that week. I welcome comments and look forward to being invited to someone else’s blog site to read about their ideas on design process and sketching/drawing and other related areas. My main objective at this time is to focus on the relationship between sketching and understanding the use of a variety of places by people in a variety of ways. How the designer perceives the place is reflected in the design sketch. The sketch can also attempt to indicate how the people perceive the place through their use of it. The sketch can also be thought of as a type of building evaluation by the designer. While observing the place to do the sketch, the designer’s drawing can indicate actual use and include comments on that use. As I continue contributing thoughts to this web log, the relationship between sketching and observation, perception and evaluation will be some of the ideas that I intend to expand upon.

My first sketch posting is of my downtown. It is an observation of a north side section of Main Street in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. As a sketch, it attempts to show an overall view of several buildings in a row. It is basically an observation of the basic building shapes. Its value is simple at this stage: observing existing forms. Further work for it would be in the area of including people in the sketch and expressing more feeling in the sketch (to indicate the designer’s impression of the place and its use).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Visual Notes

My week has been a busy one and I do not have as much as I would like for this week's entry.

Over the last few months, I have been looking over the literature on sketching to find several interesting references to use in exploring the area of design sketching and its value and application to the design process. In attempting to take the broadest view, I find useful the description/model given by Norman Crowe and Paul Laseau in their book, Visual Notes for Architects and Designers. Although it was published in 1984 (Van Nostrand Rienhold), the ideas presented are still relevant today, over twenty years later.

Crowe and Laseau remark that the value of design sketches or visual notes can be integrated into the creative design process in three areas: recording information, analysis of information, and solving design problems.

For the current study that I am doing, my focus is on the first area of recording information and more specifically observing environments. Design sketching is a complex area of study and covers a wide range of drawing types and disciplines. As I explore this area, I am beginning with observational sketches as a focus area. My own work in sketching will be doing observational sketches of Main Street buildings in the city center of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I will be posting some of these sketches from time to time. As a new activity of doing a web log, I am slow and hesitant but intrigued by the medium for communication with others interested in this topic.

In trying to describe the experience of place, I am using all senses along with the visual aspects in sketching, including notes on sounds, smells and the touch of weather (there have been some very cold days out there sketching over the last month). My thoughts are somewhat disjointed as I write in this Friday’s log and I hope to organize them better as I continue in this endeavor.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Design Communication and Sketching

Design Communication and Sketching
Tuesday, 17 April 2007, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Design communication comes in all forms and this web log is another example of that. It is an intriguing medium, the Internet, for communication and I am beginning this web log as a way to share my thoughts and interact with others who are interested in related issues and topics in reference to design sketching.

The purpose of this web log is to chronicle my own exploration into the topic of design sketching, both as an area of written study and as an area of hands-on experience with the action of doing the sketching. I am also interested in the ability to share these thoughts in an open virtual forum on the internet and I look forward to comments and responses from others across disciplines and at different knowledge levels.

Learning is continuous and this exploration project is part of my learning process in the field of design. Although my background is in the area of interior and architectural design, design sketching overlaps many disciplines where there is the process of problem solving. My intent is to submit entries (essays) weekly, typically by Friday. I will also include reflections on my study on design sketching as well as pictorial examples of my own sketching.