Coloring outside the lines: Musings from the BLDD Design Department

When the firm tagline is #becauselifedeservesdesign and you are tasked with leading design for the firm, you would think we would be more uptight!  In reality the design department at BLDD is having the time of our life.
Working side by side since April in a common studio has been a great thing for our crew.  We enjoy watching each other work and participating in the creative process together in the Central Illinois studio. In many ways, the work coming out of “the West Annex” is some of the best we have ever done.  I am regularly blown away at the high quality of design thought and the level of presentation that the team is delivering daily.
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This is what we wake up to do!

One thing I have enjoyed is seeing is how everyone processes design.  We all process design differently, and I am proud to say, do it very well!  Our approaches are all so unique.  It’s fun to learn new ways to create. Models, markers, Lumion, and trace share the tables, floors, and walls like never before.

I especially love seeing “The Great Carsoni,” (as I often refer to partner and co-studio leader Carson Durham), put his colored pencils and markers to work.  It’s truly a joy to finally get to share a studio with him after 20 years of being on parallel tracks in different studios. His drawings really have a life to them that we can’t replicate any other way.  He inspires me to draw more than ever. I  am so blessed to get to look at his inspiring work everyday across the room from my table. (Sadly, all he has to look at is my scribbled post it notes.)

The great digital work we are producing is inspiring for me as well.  I remember laboring on a rendering with Sam Johnson when I started back in 1997 . It looked something like a jack o’lantern, but it was a digital rendering, so it was “cool.” The current generation of young designers just keeps pushing the envelope. Our best efforts  from only a few years ago, pale in comparison to the work they routinely do.

MU Music Perspective
May 1997 Millikin Music Building Rendering – 187K!
As design leaders for the firm, we are committed to elevating every design opportunity that comes to the firm.  It has also been valuable to see all the design work in process so we can make edits and improve things as a team in real time.
It has allowed us to see where each of us and our teams need to improve as well. Our team knows that our client experts put our design work up against the best education, senior living, and religious designers in the country.  As Gary Likins used to tell recent graduates, “nothing, but ‘A’ work is acceptable now.”
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2017 -Studying the Millikin Theatre and Dance Design

We encourage each other to iterate more, explore more, and do it quickly. It’s so tempting to pick a design and “run with it” and put it into the software at our fingers. Despite how busy our team is, our goal is to  slow down a little, look at it one more time, do one more sketch, before we unleash the powers of our presentation abilities.

We are humbled and energized by the work our colleagues do to turn the scribbles on yellow trace or the pixels on the screen into lasting additions to the communities we serve.
A-mazing things are arriving daily in communities all over the midwest- because life deserves DESIGN!

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