Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Masks are designs that conceal and reveal what lives behind them. Much of design follows this theme. We might express ourselves through the choice of an entry door's style and material. But how much of that choice is guided by what presents a socially acceptable face? When we step back, the entry is a lot like the other doors on the street. The door may appear tasteful, cool or whatever adjective you prefer to use. Yet, the intention of using that design opportunity to express yourself has been lost. 

In workshops I teach, I lead people through an exercise that helps them discover the images that nourish and reveal what is hidden behind the usual mask of design. We start by closing our eyes, sitting quietly, and noticing the stillness inside our bodies and minds. I ask, "What is the shape, material, color and texture of the floor that would support this stillness?" What are the shape, materials, colors and textures of the wall that would embrace this stillness?" We continue through the other elements of roof, windows, doors and ornament until each person has imagined a complete setting where the dwelling of stillness is supported. The we go around the room and people describe the designs that spontaneously rose in their minds. Each one is unique to that person. Each one is vital. Often then are surprising. Each one masks stillness to reveal creative possibilities of design. I'd love to live in a neighborhood where every house was created in this way. 

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