Reverting Back to the Age of ‘Why?’

07/01/2017

Sometimes it’s easy to think we’re on our own, especially with the ways in which social media can make us feel like it is our accomplishments against the world’s. We want to be our own cheerleaders, build our own careers, and stand on our own two feet.

Which is why I’m so glad this issue comes on the heels of NeoCon. For a very busy three days, we’re reminded that we don’t—nor can we—know everything. It takes an army of professionals to create an optimal space, from the furniture designers who understand weight-bearing loads so we’re sure users won’t deal with the seats failing, to carpet manufacturers who know the ins and outs of fiber quality. There is rarely a moment during trade shows and industry events where I walk away without more knowledge than when I arrived.

Therein lies the importance of trade shows. It’s nice to see the new releases and rub elbows at parties, but the true experience lies in the insight one gleans from others who know the intricacies of different things, if only their own lived experiences.

At the Teknion party Monday night during NeoCon, I was speaking with several members of the company’s team when I brought up feeling like I never grew out of the age of “why?” I’ve found it’s annoying to some: I once asked a crowded bus during a press event why barns are red in so much of the United States (growing up in California, the barns I’ve seen have mostly been unpainted wood or prefabricated metal structures), and was instantly met with the comment, “You know Google exists, right?” It made me think of the episode of “How I Met Your Mother” when Future-Ted bemoans the loss of the days before Google when The Gang sat around debating thoughts and opinions. But a funny thing happened while recounting this story with the Teknion team: I continued on and was stopped by everyone asking, “Wait! Why are barns red?!” It turned into a lively discussion full of their “whys” as well.

For me, that’s the importance of living a life in which charrettes are an active part of our days. We ask the proverbial, “Why are barns red?”  and rather than rely on the “I Feel Lucky” button on Google, we interact with others whose knowledge is different than our own. In charrettes, we influence, and are influenced by, others’ thoughts and opinions to come up with a solution.

In this issue, we focused on that influence we gain from participating in the charrette structure. Whether the solution is in returning to the place you were born and allowing it to inform your design perspective or working as an eclectic team to find the perfect product to highlight a client’s culture (How I Sourced It, pg. 52), it is from speaking what we know and admitting what we don’t that the best solutions are found.

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