“People think that it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make this look good!’. That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
– Steve Jobs
Although volumes have been written in the pursuit of defining “good design”, the above quote, taken from page 10 of the book Design Is How It Works by Jay Greene, may be the best summary of that elusive definition that I’ve found. Makes sense – considering the source.
However, if you think about it, this quote can be reduced to that age old adage, “Form vs. Function”. That is really what he’s saying isn’t it? Form without Function doesn’t make good design. It may look great, but if it doesn’t work, what use is it?
Although I never thought of it in exactly those terms, that really is at the heart of the design/build philosophy of project delivery. Unless the architect and his team of professionals seamlessly collaborate with the builder and his team of professionals, the “how it works” part remains illusive. Frankly, the Jurassic method of employing the architect to oversee the builder is woefully inadequate. You would think that with modern technology that method of project delivery would be as efficient as ever. Not so. Technology has quickly advanced construction materials and methods at a pace and breadth beyond what the architect and builder can master together, much less separately. Add the rapid adoption rate of BIM (Building Information Modeling) to the equation, and it becomes even more apparent the need – or better yet, requirement – for better, more efficient team collaboration.
Accepting the requirement for collaborative design/build, there is no way to execute this philosophy better than within the walls of the true design/build firm. Separately, the architect and builder will always rest on their primal need for self preservation. In other words, at the end of the day, the architect ultimately only cares about his reputation and his business, and the same goes for the builder. Within the true design/build firm, this basic conflict is removed as neither discipline is more important than the other, and the client is the ultimate winner. Finally, when the designer and builder are united in matrimony, they can give birth to their twins “Form” and “Function” and ultimately, the project (home) not only looks great, but IT WORKS great also. Ahhhh – triumph!