An Architect’s View On Design Process, Limitations And Context


Today’s awful weather was perfect for rereading 101 Things I Learned In Architecture School. It’s a short book I bought a few years ago for a UX Book Club meeting. Matthew Frederick included a few thoughts particularly interesting for user experience designers:

“Improved design process, not a perfectly realized building, is the most valuable thing you gain from one design studio and take with you to the next.”

“Never rue the limitations of a design problem – a too small site, an inconvenient topography, an overlong space, an unfamiliar palate of materials, contradictory requests from the client… Within those limitations lies the solution of the problem!”

“Always design a thing by considering it in its larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”

— Eliel Saarinen


“Design a flight of stairs for the day a nervous bride descends them. […]. Create a seating area for a group of surly teenagers to complain about their parents and teachers. Designing in idea-specific ways will not limit the ways in which people use and understand your buildings; it will give them license to bring their own interpretations and idiosyncrasies to them.”

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