Welcome to my project website, which documents my work-in-progress. I'm writing a book titled Writing Design: How to tell stories about design & why you absolutely must. It is a text about writing and storytelling for architects and designers. I hope you enjoy sharing my journey. Join the community and get occasional updates.

The Journal
Updates on progress, musings, outtakes, excerpts and random thoughts (pensées)
Repitition is a form of change: An observation about pattern, repetition & specificity

Inner-city terrace renovations in Melbourne, Victoria, often follow a unique yet recognizable pattern. This involves preserving the heritage-rich front of the dwelling while creating modern, typically minimal extensions at the rear. The juxtaposition of the historical and contemporary elements creates a balanced, harmonious composition.

Despite the overarching pattern, each renovation features distinct variations, allowing for a wide range of individuality within the projects. These differences ensure that while the form remains consistent, each renovation evolves uniquely over time. The repetition of this pattern not only highlights the depth of modernism's legacy but drives ongoing innovation in architectural design.

Acknowledging these patterns and their evolution is crucial in the narrative of design storytelling. This repetition and variation underscore the dynamic nature of architecture, proving that even within established frameworks, there is room for creativity and transformation.

Answering a Question Posed in Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies Card Deck

Understanding the distinction between a story and an experience can deepen our appreciation of architecture and design. While stories often possess a clear beginning, middle, and end, experiences tend to be more loosely structured, resembling Stravinsky’s *Rite of Spring*, which appears as an assemblage of discontinuous fragments moving within a rhythmic framework. This structure, though seemingly random, is intentional and highly specific, much like the complexity of real life.

In writing about architecture and design, one can adopt a similar approach by assembling fragments that each hold their own rhythm and structure. Architecture is an intricate conjunction of multiple elements such as use, form, function, and context, leading to an overall gestalt that is made up of harmonious yet discontinuous parts. This analogical method captures the essence of architectural structures better than a linear narrative could.

Moreover, architecture is subject to change and entropy, only standing permanently within the confines of styled photographs. The perception of a piece of architecture—whether through a story, an image, or a visit—is always a fleeting moment, a snapshot in the continuous flow of time. This perspective acknowledges the dynamic, ever-evolving nature of buildings and spaces.

How NOT to tell stories about design: Some initial thoughts

Understanding architecture and interior design involves more than just appreciating the aesthetic; it requires delving into the minds and intentions of the designers. However, architects often find it difficult to communicate their ideas clearly to the public, resorting to a highly specialized language that can alienate clients and laypeople. This creates an insular environment where the most engaged audience for architectural concepts is often other architects, which can be counterproductive for the profession's outreach and vitality.

One way to bridge this communication gap is to simplify the language used to describe architecture. An interesting tool called the UpGoer 5 challenge helps explain complex ideas using only the 1000 most common English words. For example, architecture can be described as "places and spaces that are more interesting because people have thought hard about how they are made and have made them carefully." This simplification makes it easier for non-professionals to appreciate the depth and significance of architectural work without stripping away its complexity or magic.

Effective communication in design is not just about clarity but also engaging a broader audience. Striking a balance between professional jargon and accessible language can make architecture and design fascinating and understandable to all, which is beneficial for both the designers and their clients. Sharing the magic of design in an easily digestible format is not only a sound strategy conceptually but also supports the bottom line by attracting more customers and buyers.

Author Profile

Marcus Baumgart is a writer who designs buildings. He has an Architecture Degree with Honours, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Design, a Certificate in Business Coaching, a Graduate Certificate in Digital Communication Strategy and a range of other minor vocational and technical qualifications. Designing buildings is fun, but Marcus thinks of himself as a writer first and a designer a close second. 

Marcus has been a freelance journalist for two decades, and has well over a hundred essays, profiles, reviews and articles in print. His interviewing and journalism have focused on design-led and creativity-first businesses. He has interviewed scores of entrepreneurs, CEOs, architects, designers of all kinds (from UX to graphic, industrial, urban, and interior), illustrators, landscape architects, visual merchandisers, artists, craftspeople and artisans of all kinds. Writing Design is the logical conclusion of two decades of interviewing, thinking, designing, and - of course - writing.

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© 2024 Marcus Baumgart