Thoughts on Style

Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Architecture | No Comments

As an architect, I frequently get asked the question; “what architectural style do you design?”

Well, that’s a loaded question and people are usually surprised by the answer. If they asked; “what is your favorite style of architecture?” they would likely get a shorter answer, but that’s a hugely different question.

Architecture is a business. You better be able to design in the style your client wants. The other option is to be so good at the style you want to design that your clients come to you specifically for that style. You are also going to need a few breaks along the way so that you can first establish a pattern of style. In all my career, I have never been able to persuade a client to “change styles” after they walked in the door. So the short answer to the first question is; “whatever style the client pays me to design.”

The issue is that style and design are two totally different things. You may not have an affinity for a particular style, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t good design being completed using the language of that style. Good literature occurs in most of the languages on the planet. Literature isn’t good because of the language. The language is the vehicle.  It’s the same with architectural style.

The principles and elements of design transcend style. For that reason, I am usually very critical of designers who refuse to design outside of the style that they have become comfortable with. I believe that usually indicates a good stylist and a lazy (or incapable) designer. A good designer does not care much for style…any style. Don’t misunderstand, a designer may have personal tastes that favor a particular style, but in my opinion, it shouldn’t matter when it comes time to design for others.

So another appropriate answer to the first question would be, “I don’t care.”

I want to produce good design. Not good style.

So, what’s the answer to the second question? If doesn’t really matter, does it?