[via Rough Luxe Design]
Last semester, I was introduced to a new concept that I had never really thought much about before – that of indigenous, vernacular, and raw design. A few quick definitions:
Indigenous: Originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country, native.
Vernacular: Commonly spoken language or dialect of a particular people or place. A local style of architecture. Relating to, using, or in the vernacular.
Raw: In the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state.
I learned of these ideas in two different classes:
1. Philosophy of Eastern and Western Architecture: We talked about the eastern and western worlds and their differences of philosophies and the connections they had to architecture. I learned so much in this class, but in relation to this post, the thing that stands out in my mind was learning about the Yaodong cave dwellings in China. You can learn about them at Tour Beijing. In relation to design, architects were eventually brought into the community to work with cave-dwellers in further developing them to keep up with the modernizing world, but still respecting the indigenous lifestyle they lived. This process introduced me to a great design philosophy…design WITH, not FOR. To some degree, I had been doing this all along in my interior design education, keeping in mind our “clients” (they were made-up) lists of wants and needs while designing (imaginary) spaces for them. But I never fully was able to practice it until last semester’s studio project, where I had the opportunity to meet with community members from a nearby rural town and design a community center. The meetings were amazing and eye-opening. It was my first time working with real clients (a lot of them!), and working with them to find a solution that would benefit everyone. I received feedback on my designs, and then altered any changes accordingly. I have always heard horror stories of people with awful clients that are never satisfied, but I had no such problem and if anything, developed better designs because of the collaboration! Here, you can see my final design presentation. So basically what I am getting at, is designing with your client, not for them, assuming you know what is best, because you don’t! The studio project I had was a great opportunity, and although a client in a region like the Chinese cave dwellings would be much different, these experiences help to prepare me for learning how to respect different lifestyles and desires.
[via Style Files]
2. Global History of Design: This class covers history in design all over the world, and in this sense, it was fascinating to see how design is so connected with big ideas – religion, astronomy, political, social, and other factors. It was also really interesting to see how different cultures connected and influenced each other – whether from trade routes like the Silk Road through China, or conquering empires like the Romans or Mesoamericans, or even religious exchange, such as Christian and Buddhism. Cross-cultural exchange is a reoccurring topic in that class, and you begin to realize the many ways in which different parts of the world connect. As far as vernacular design, we learned about many famous sites (really, many of the places could be considered indigenous), but one in my mind is the Ise Shrine in Japan. The shrine is rebuilt every 20 years in the exact same way. Many of its architectural features are similar to other indigenous structures. It is built to perfection every time.
So, learning about these concepts at such deep levels had definitely influenced me with its “back to basics” message, being inspired by the use of raw materials, often seen in historic sites (mud-brick, clay, untreated wood, etc). I have kept my eyes open to these beautiful spaces that are so simple and really feature the use of materials and texture.
[via Wabi Sabi]
[via Modern Country]
In the coming months of this semester, I will be continuing to work on a paper about this topic for a research class, and I look forward to being further inspired on these ideas! If you have any thoughts about these concepts, please feel free to share! I would love to hear your comments and opinions.