I write therefore I’m improving

According to Fast Company, John Madea is positing that writing skills are important for design because many interactions still depend on text. I’d like to approach this from a different angle. What I’ve found in my personal development is that the better command I develop over my natural languages, the better everything becomes. Visual thinking, musical thinking, engineering thinking … everything.

Some people have described my approach to design as linguistic. In addition, I think of coding primarily as an extension of linguistic skills. So the apparent close relationship between natural language skills and other skills might just be me. But since language is such a core part of how the human mind works, it could very well be universal.

So, yeah, writing.

Box jointing


I spent the afternoon with the muy talented Jason Holtz learning the inner secrets of box joints. Jason is a master woodworker and furniture designer with clients all over the country. I seriously recommend you check him out if you’re looking for custom or prototype work.

I’ll be turning the above into something more interesting in the upcoming days (i.e., weeks). Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, back in Istanbul …


I’ve been in Istanbul for the last week or so. It’s been about a human gestation period since I was last here, and it’s unmistakable that the trend of building more, higher, and brighter has continued unabated.

Pastiche is an approach that’s not uncommon to new-money endeavors, and it’s no surprise that it’s common here. The biggest source of inspiration for the new designs seems to be iconic government projects, large-scale residential structures, and skyscrapers from Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, and other European countries whose cities are built on Cartestian street plans.

istanbul-buildings-2014-08The biggest problem with this is that almost nowhere in Istanbul are streets Cartesian. Nor are they radial. Rather, the streets and highways of Istanbul were determined, as one historian put it, by topography. Which is another way of saying that Istanbul’s roads developed in a very ad-hoc fashion. Some think it lends the city some of its charm.

What this means for the increasingly dense structure of new and tall buildings—already a mishmash of pastiche—is that each has a different orientation. You don’t get rows or arcs of buildings; rather you get a hodgepodge of orientations that the hodgepodge of styles simply aren’t suited to. Nothing relates to anything. Little islands of egocentricity and local optimization. An underscoring of the chaos of life in Istanbul.

Whether this will end up increasing the city’s charm remains to be seen.