Design Thinking Drawing

Tonight I went to a really interesting book launch by Peter Richards of Deicke Richards here in Brisbane. Peter’s book explores the theme of drawing as a method of thinking, particularly in an urbanist and architectural context.

Part of the book launch was an introduction by both Malcolm Middleton and John Byrne , a discussion by Peter of his methods, and a question and answer session at the end between Peter and John. There were so many good points raised about the changing nature of the way architects communicate their ideas and principles, as techniques change from hand-drawn to photorealistic renders.

Malcolm introduced us to the concept of urban sketcher groups, which I am going to have to find out more about. I was inspired by Malcolm’s initial discussion on experiencing the city through a different lense by sketching it insitu, as you stop and listen and learn from it and take the time to get to know it. It’s a different experience to taking a quick photo and moving on, or just seeing it on a screen. This act makes you focus on what is really important, and how spaces make you feel, rather than (just) how they look.

Peter’s explanation of his book focused on the communication of both an outcome and the process. Being able to quickly explain process and move through concepts is a vital part of an architect’s skills and needs to be developed now more than ever. I liked Peter’s thoughts on drawing un-self-consciously, I guess similar to NoTosh’s thinking on holding ideas lightly, using hand-drawing skills to work through concepts and develop ideas, without always needing a perfect finished image.

Peter’s book contains examples and thoughts on the processes of design, and practice exercises to build up sketching and drawing skills. At the heart of all of this is considering what the purpose of any image is – to communicate an intention. Whether it is a diagram, a sketch or an illustration, it needs to convey the important information, be clear and legible and have a purpose. Sketches need to be created with intent. I’m looking forward to learning more from Peter’s book about this valuable skill.

Peter seems to believe that anyone can be a good drawer, with enough practice. That might not mean they create the perfectly rendered image that looks like the photo, but they can create a diagram that perfectly explains the purpose of their site, or building, or space. Connecting the head, heart and hand enables the ability to develop, design and explore.

I love this idea and it inspired me to get back into sketching and drawing. I generally always start designing with a pen in my hand, moving between sketching, planning, measuring, then onto the computer, drafting, drawing in 3d, iterating, sketching, and developing, and then generally back to the pen again. But it’s been a long time since I’ve sketched a real life scene, interpreting and appreciating the world through the pen. Perhaps it’s something that I need to get back into..

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