Big Little Details

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You’ve heard that one before, right?

It’s not difficult to apply the old adage to the world of design: many lines and shapes become one drawing; many photos on an inspiration board become one design concept; many coils, ducts, and vents become a complete HVAC system; many pieces of furniture and artwork become a polished interior.

But a picture of the finished product cannot capture the countless small pieces that come together to create a truly great design. Here, a few of our designers take you behind the scenes of current projects to point out the little details—from windows to duck feathers—that play a crucial role in the design process.

“Right now, I’m purchasing pillows for the guest rooms in a hotel. I have to buy them in single units, and each one is hand-stitched and made in India. Isn’t that awesome? They are very intricate, very cool pillows; I just love that detail. And the artwork in those same guest rooms was actually inspired by a picture I took while walking with my kids. I spotted a duck and took an up-close shot of its feathers, and that ultimately became part of our design concept. That’s something cool about this business; you can be inspired at any time. You don’t actually have to be working.”
–Patricia Lopez, LEED AP ID+C, Associate | Interior Designer


“Before we officially get a job, while we’re still in the presentation phase, we spend a great deal of time trying to understand how we can communicate our skills to the prospective client in the best way possible. Some people are very visual; some are very verbal. I just finished creating a watercolor of a design with historic aspects, and it offers a level of detailing and human scale that is different from a computer model. The drawing has a tactile element that I believe the prospective client will really appreciate when we reveal it during the presentation.”
–Mark Larson, AIA, Principal


“Almost every part of the project I’m working on right now references something—a person, place, or typology—that no one will ever notice. It’s that rich in detail. The glass boxes that come away from the wall just so? I see W.G. Clark in that. This artifact? Inspired by Gettysburg. The little window on this wall? Just a romantic detail. And all of the glass in this south-facing wall is just deep enough to block the angle of the sun while still creating a maximum sense of openness.”
–Ben Winn, Project Designer


“Currently, I’m working on the design for a crisis intervention facility that will assist patients dealing with an urgent mental health crisis. The project presents a number of unique challenges, because the facility calls for special locks and a security desk where officers will be on call. We have to consider all elements of the design; for example, even the hardware has to be tamper-resistant to prevent self-harm.”
–Thom Dodson, AIA, Project Architect


“I’m working on a floorplan for a client brochure right now, and originally, all of the lines in the drawing were solid black. That may be easy for an architect to interpret quickly, but for a normal person just flipping through the brochure, it wasn’t a good fit. I played with the transparency in order to help guide the viewer’s eye and take in the layout of the room quickly. In the same way, light plays a crucial role in a rendering I am editing right now; the way a room is lit can totally change the way you perceive it, even if everything else stays the same.”
–Perritt Chan, Graphics and Visualization Specialist


Ideas, happenings, press, and perspectives.


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