Santa Is Real

Santa Is Real

No, not necessarily in the red suit, overweight, bearded form; but in our field, jolly ol’ Nick is a necessary spark of joy. The twinkle in a designer’s eye that then leads to an idea that’s followed by a thrill pursuit a of the unknown – that is real.

This Fall, I had the pleasure of bringing architecture and design to third graders at Whittier Elementary School. Architecture in Schools, a program sponsored by the Washington Architectural Foundation, pairs local architects and designers with DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools. Practicing professionals teach for 1 hour per week throughout the Fall semester, implementing the curriculum they develop along with the classroom teacher.

Many of these students have never heard of an architect or an interior designer, and would probably not encounter the field until at least high school, if at all. To bring this opportunity to such a young group has been challenging but supremely rewarding. We have covered everything from basic shapes to sustainability, weaving design thinking into their Math and Science curriculum. As the semester comes to a close, I’m so glad to see them drawing and modeling their ideas much like I did as a graduate student just a few years ago.

Talk About Dreaming Big.

For these students, the spark is all they need. No Revit, no Archi-speak, no big commission, no 3D-printing. Just the pure, unfiltered wonder and curiosity – and permission to do just that – wonder.

I’m sure that each of us can recall a time in our lives when we got that jolt of making for the sake of making, the thrill of fantasizing for the sake of fantasizing. Maybe it was sometime in your childhood, maybe it was yesterday. As professionals, we often take this spark for granted. We miss the gift that is the pure wonder of the unknown. Because we take it for granted  we often play a passive role in its demise. This loss of innocence, of wonder, isn’t always traumatic. Most of the time it just happens silently and unnoticed…

As children, this drive to create is so organic. We just do! There is something so beautifully imbibed in each of us at that age – such a spirit of hope. We see things that aren’t there and could go on for hours thinking of the possibility of what could be. Not the thing that stares at us in the face every day, but what potential that thing holds.

For Us As Designers, To Truly Do What We Feel Called To, Santa Has To Be Real.

To see the unseen, we must believe in the power of the unknown – and the power of its possibility, however unlikely it may seem. We introduce options that might seem outlandish, but start to gleam with possibility when tested against the limits of a project. These things give us the fuel to create – and reconnect with our inner creative potential – with our inner child.

Happy Holidays from OPX!

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