Every time I teach DIY Like an Architect workshop through Art Center’s ACN, a sense of doing something meaningful gives me a jolt. Being able to assist with the process of generating ideas is uplifting. It’s so inspiring to come in contact with men and women who’d give up their Sunday to uncover new facets of themselves. I want to learn from them, actually.
No matter what it is they are working on — from kitchen remodel to a complete life overhaul — the workshop presents plenty of opportunities for soul-searching and self-expression. I am astonished at how brutally honest it gets. Enticing people to dig deep and reach within is my favorite part.
The most fascinating component of the DIY Like an Architect workshop is the process of generating ideas.
The 2-day workshop follows the steps outlined and explained in my electronic how-toBook DIY Like an Architect: 11-step method. The very first item on the agenda is mastering a brainstorming technique called mind mapping. We practice together while pondering: “Where Do I Begin?” Of course, a bulleted list is a far cry from a mind map, but here’s the gist of what we come up with:
- At the beginning
- By setting a goal/defining an objective
- On Paper (with a mind map)
- By drawing from personal experience/something familiar
- With a need
- With a budget
- By doing research
- Right here
Next, intrigued workshop participants diligently apply the skill to their individual projects. Usually, mind mapping and collaging (step 2) lead to a revelation. Something very important bubbles up to the surface. Once that happens, there’s no stopping. Whatever the notion, it has to be given a chance to evolve, develop, grow. It needs to be nurtured, cared for.
While everyone is working on their collages, I am taking the opportunity to bring up the next phase. I ask them to think of one word, a descriptor that summarizes it all. A little bit later, we shall take a leap and assume that this one encapsulating word is their parti. Yes, this word is something to hang on to. A lot can be deduced from it.
Each step is a mini-project.
Carrying on with diagramming. We’re generating ideas by layering on what showed-up in the previous step — justifying our findings. Slowly but surely, this newly-conceived word or parti begins to make sense. Let me illustrate with just two examples.
For one participant, who’s going through divorce, the word/parti is HOPE. She diagrams it as a light at the end of the tunnel. Then, she quickly makes a list of what’s important to her. Based on that, she grabs a piece of tissue paper and fashions a boat. Her 3-D diagram is a vessel with a “state-of-the-art navigation system.”
Another workshop participant is married to a young doctor who is still in his residency. They are renting a room at the moment and are looking forward to having their own apartment. Her word/parti is SHINE described as radiating lines coming out of a nucleus.
What does that mean? SHINE? What is that about? Oh! It’s about her! She makes a sculpture that consists of a wooden block base that symbolizes God, out of which come out four pillars representing her husband, her family, her friends, and America where she is afforded a lot of opportunities. They, in turn, support her described as a collection of intricate textures and shapes “streaming” out of a semi-spherical container.
Unfortunately, there’s not enough time to cover everything. However, I do make an attempt to introduce at least 8 steps of the DIY Like an Architect 11-step method. As such, we move on to scaled drawings. The process of generating ideas continues while mastering floor plans and sections. Even though we can’t get to it in the classroom, building a model is a critical component as well. Hopefully, they’ll carry on.