There are days when we get frustrated and have to do the tough or mundane parts of our jobs, but there are also times when everything sings… when you love what you do.
This summer I had the pleasure of starting a new design project, for a large hospital in Penticton. This was the competition phase – where three large firms are shortlisted and each team has to submit a design proposal based on their understanding of the project and also bring their own skills and talents to create a superlative building design that wins them the project.
I went to the Okanagan to research the area and gather inspiration. Part of the criteria involved integrating first nations culture and history into the design. I headed down to Penticton, picked up my Dad, who lives there, and spent the day with him. He accompanied me as I drove down to Osoyoos, toured the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, and took photos of the landscape on the beautiful drive back. We had lived in Summerland briefly in the 60’s and it brought back memories for us, sparking interesting road trip conversations.
I later had a fruitful session with the wonderfully helpful archivist at the local museum… she pulled out photos and books for me to ponder – and this helped me gather ideas.
It was a wonderful day of discovery…I treasure this part of my job: gathering, gathering, gathering….Not knowing what will come of it, but not concerning myself with that at the time – just staying open and gathering. This is the beauty of the design process, and it is so satisfying when it unfolds organically.
I later found how much I enjoyed organizing and presenting this material to the client group; talking about what I had discovered, and how I would craft and organize the interior design theme, colours, motifs, signage around what I had discovered. There was so much information and so many options – at first I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, but I trusted that it would, in time. All the while I had my architect colleagues giving me free reign to explore and design and then respecting my work and trusting that the outcome would be excellent.
And it was. There is a wonderful word, naming the first nation in that area: Syilx. I guess it’s the meaning that I find wonderful: the binding and twisting of multi-stranded fibres to create one strong cohesive element, and it signifies not just the collective unification of these fibres, but each individual’s responsibility to play a part in the continual binding and unification of this whole. I thought it was a wonderful metaphor for “community” and this was the backbone of my theme and design.
This week we found out we won the project. I’m thrilled, and really do appreciate what I get to do for work.