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organizing thoughts, parti, architect-on-demand, advice-without-strings

Although nervous and uncomfortable promoting my own system, I’m compelled to recommend it. I teach a strategy of organizing thoughts aimed at generating a parti, a launch pad for an architectural design. The process is quite simple; it’s outlined in my how-to ebook DIY Like an Architect: 11-step method.

Actually, it has been tested on students of all ages for years — it really works! Just last Sunday I saw it in action while presenting the system at Art Center’s DIY Like an Architect workshop. A small group of DIY enthusiasts insured a very intimate, nurturing setting conducive to learning and mastering the initial steps culminating in defining a parti.

organizing thoughts, parti

Once you know how to access, grasp, and withdraw information that has been already gathered and stored in the brain, the unfolding is quite enjoyable. It’s fun digging deep in order to become aware of innate, subconscious preferences that inform the creative process.

organizing thoughts, parti

Organizing thoughts while treating them as potential material for an original design is exciting!

I love observing “the mining” in action. First, each participant is immersed in mind mapping (a brainstorming exercise based on opening up to 360 degrees of associations). It’s very important to take the time and listen to yourself. And to write those thoughts down. Uncovering. More and more revelations bubble up to the surface.

Next, raw awareness has to be translated, represented. Collaging helps with that. Once you’ve seen something with your mind’s eye, it’s easy to recognize. It’s bound to show up as a “random” picture or a tag line in a magazine. You are drawn to it — hunting and gathering for images to acknowledge your thoughts visually. Collaging is just a tool to help illustrate your imagination.

organizing thoughts, parti

Thus, so much is realized. Now, it must be shared, discussed, related back. Talking about it makes it even more defined, attainable, within reach. I marvel at that. This happens every time. But, we have a lot more work to do: at this point, we have collected raw data; it should be sifted through. The goal is to convert it into a parti.

organizing thoughts, parti

We have to summarize this outpouring of emotions with just a single word. This word is a parti — one big bold idea that guides you through the entire design process.

It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Clearly, it’s rooted in stuff that is very close to your heart. You’ve done the soul-searching; therefore, you’ve invested the energy to claim it as your very own.

Organizing thoughts to define a parti is merely the beginning. Next, we connect, anchor it to all the subsequent design decisions. We accomplish it through diagramming. Step-by-step, my students are absorbing and putting the system into practice, turning a 3-hour workshop into a delightfully rewarding as well as affirming experience. I’ll talk more about it next week.


  • Irina Zheveleva
    June 20, 2018

    Allochka, you never cease to amaze me. Thank you for sharing. I clicked every link on this article, which landed me on other blog posts you wrote a couple of years ago, and WOW!!! Enjoyed the pictures of creative youth 🙂

    • Alla DIY Ally
      June 28, 2018

      I agree. Kids are capable of amazing stuff.

  • Mia S Kazovsky
    June 21, 2018

    Such an interesting and important process that can be applied to all sorts of design! I think the key to creating is being able to see what you want to create with your “mind’s eye,” and I could not agree more that writing things down can help you get there! I’m excited to see what your students created!

    • Alla DIY Ally
      June 28, 2018

      It always feels daunting before you start. Writing things down takes the edge off.

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