a book from Kathryn Moore, professor at the Birgmingham Institute of Art and Design
Jakob Kamp (head of Danish Landscape architects association and co-founder of 1:1 landskab) introduced Kathryn's conference and book as the expression of the link between teaching, theory and practice in landscape architecture. But furthermore, Kathryn's book concerns anyone working with design process and creative disciplines.
It is about expressing in words what people from the profession use to express with drawings and to develop by sketching. With those words Jakob expressed the hope of a better understanding of what we are doing as designers and also, and mainly, the hope of getting people "out there" to understand "our role in the society".
This first statement is quite interesting regarding the split of understanding growing between architects - or designers to use the general noun Kathryn uses - and the users of our productions. It seems that since the modernism designers have been acting in the name of a better world or living qualities, in the name of users that did not understand them and that probably they did not understand neither. Pathetic, isn't it? Especially after the speach of Eva De Klerk (cf. comment on her conference on the 04.05.10 at DAC) that got that far as claiming that users don't actually need all the fancy drawing and designs architects and planners want to make...
But getting back on todays matter, Kathryn develops: this book and the questions it arises are of a philosophical matter: philosophical questions regarding all kinds of design and investigating the meaning of design. In order to do so, she looks into the understanding of design and designers.
The first gap appears between scientific disciplines, accurate, rational, where thinking and decision making requires a certain knowledge. On the contrary, the designer or artist moves in a much less accurate field of expertise, more visual, where answers are found by doing, doing and re-doing, sketching, building, tearing down and building again. Because of that process, it appears to be a field where feelings matters more, if not most, no prerequisits are expected in order to do qualified work, no knowledge to appreciate it. Here is the first lack of understanding or even misunderstanding which awakes a lot of questionning on the scientific side concerning the justification of the designer's work, the time and money spent on it and on the teaching of such a profession.
She carries on with particuliar attention to some keys or elements which can help the understanding process. These seem to come from within, from the designers themselves who should express and define their profession. Kathryn talks about the quality of design and of experiences in a designed space, the focus reset on ideas and design through writting, the use and importance of materiality, how perception and language will help us in defining our field of expertise. All those elements should contribute to create an awarness about the visual and spatial aspects of our profession and how we use them in our processes and projects.
The topic is most interesting and probably touches one of the most historical weakness of the creative discipline. I would be curious to read more about it and find out how far she goes or how close she gets to an answer...
Food for thought.