I had the vision, way back then, it’s just the articulation of the expression was not quite there yet. My senior interior design project from 1995, a wellness center. I titled the project “Revealing an Abandoned Presence.” I’m not sure where the vision came from, it was just there. I think it evolved out of the rigors of design school, intense co-op schedule living all over the country, a few thoughtful teachers, influences from my family and classmates, and a struggle for me to understand meaning and experiential quality in design, and in life. It was the manifestation of how I survived those five years and the journaling and books I read to get me through it. In design school, a few select teachers challenged us to justify the meaning behind our designs, to design with intention. I was instructed to draw every line with purpose. To have awareness about the spaces we create. How does it feel? What is the experiential quality of the space? They were concepts I couldn’t grasp. It wasn’t until I started to read poetry, Emerson, Thoreau, Wendell Berry, Joseph Campbell, books on meditation, and Native American texts, that it started to make sense. The connection with nature. The meaning behind myths and rituals, the experience of a poem, architecture was just a manifestation into physical form. Poetry uses words to express what cannot be put into words. Nature has that power, just as it is. Good architecture creates that experience, and it all starts with vision.
So, that vision has stayed with me, all these years. It guided me through many experiences, major transitions, and influenced many significant decisions. I can see it now, but I could not see it in the midst of the craziness that I was enduring, but something was driving me. Now I can see that vision has changed form, and it is still present. Design is a creative, and sometimes messy process, as is life. That vision of wellness and presence lead me to change careers to nursing, further embrace mind-body concepts, and to become very intentional about my health. It is sometimes still a challenge, especially with the self-care, but at least now I am aware that it exists. The vision I had for a physical built form, has now transcended to the vision I have for my life, and I’ve made the lifestyle changes as a result. It’s about my values of wellness, presence, and intention. As I am faced with the new year and more changes, I remind myself, it all starts with vision.
P.S. If design with intention, and the meaning and experience of architecture is also a challenge for you to grasp, you may enjoy the following TED talk.
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