It's been a while since we've profiled a person who creates in the design space but we assure you the wait was worth it. Today's post features one of the incredibly talented people we had a pleasure of spending time with in London on BlogTour. At first, we were not in tune with the talent of the architect Bob Borson. But Bob's quick wit and amazing photography peaked our interest. Then his exquisit attention to detail as well as his ability to spell blog with his fingers converted us to full-blown fans.
And then there is his blog, Life of an Architect, of which he has an incredibly large and loyal fan-base of supporters from all over the world. Bob's voice has an amazing clarity that rings very true to his personality and people can't get enough of it and his knowledgable insight into the world of architecture.
Bob's really official bio: Bob Borson is a Dallas architect who specializes in modern design. He's AIA, Leed AP, NCARB certified, and previous Dallas AIA Young Architect of the Year (2009). Here in This House readers, met Bob.
I am inspired by little things, the random acts that someone does when they think nobody else is watching or will notice afterwards. These things are intrinsic and therefore take on a special meaning in their existence. I enjoy looking at the work of others, imagining the design process they went through that yielded the final product. Going through that imaginary process almost always forces me to look at a product or building differently than I might normally be predisposed to do and the end result is almost always more interesting.
What does a typical work day like for you?
I have a 7-year-old daughter and her daily schedule tends to dictate my own. My schedule has to be malleable enough to accommodate certain flexibilities that allow my to do my job as an architect and contribute to my household in a meaningful social manner. I'm typically in my office around 7am - it's quiet this time of day and I try and respond to emails before the phones start ringing. I don't draft on the computer as much these days so the rest of the morning is spent organizing the days of others, checking in on projects, calling contractors and homeowners - generally making sure than everyone is covered in some manner. I say "what can I do for you?" a lot before noon. The rest of the day is spent sketching, working out issues, sitting in meetings and letting people know what I need from them.
What’s one thing you will always splurge on?
Quality. I know that's a generic answer but I would rather go without than spend money on something that isn't really what I want. These days, that just means I don't splurge on anything. I am not driven by material items too much, if it weren't for my wife, I'm not sure I would have any clothes from this century available to wear. I like to travel and over the last few years, have taken at least one substantial trip with my family. We drag our daughter around with us everywhere and I am excited to think about what country and place we will go this year. Southern Italy and Ireland seem to be in the lead for now.
If not an architect, you would have considered being?
My backup plan was to be a chef if the whole architecture thing didn't work out. Luckily, I have been very lucky in that I haven't ever had to spend much time wondering if chef was a viable plan or not.
My industry covers a lot of territory so this is a difficult question to answer in any specificity. One thing that I think all architects can improve upon is their ability to communicate with the end user in a meaningful capacity. Architects are quite good at visualizing what is good for the society as a whole, working at a macro level but it seems that the individual gets lost at times. I would imagine that is why I have enjoyed working as a residential architect so much - I get to work with the end user every day.
What is your best advice for an up & coming architect?
Experiment with the type of work you practice. I have had many different jobs across many market sectors and I used to think that I had damaged myself by not deciding on what I was going to do and then sticking with it. The work variety I experienced allowed me to determine what my skill set was and then find a job that let me practice architecture in a way that took advantage of those skills. As a result, I love doing what I do and still look forward to going to work every day ... well, most days.
Oooh, I don't like these sorts of questions. I am a person who tends to trend along with other designers and architects and as a result, I move onto a great new site but then I've moved onto the next great site just as soon. The ones that stick around tend to be aggregate sites - sites that collect all sorts of information and just sticks it out there for you to look at. Sites like:
I am particularly drawn to items and products that have an implied longevity to them. Things made of quality materials and tend to be simple - driven by their utilitarian purpose. As an architect, I tend to stay away from certain material trends for the simple reason that it's expensive to change materials once next year's trending product or materials arrives on the scene. Architect Louis Kahn is quoted as saying "Even a brick wants to be something" and what that means is that a common brick is in and of itself nothing special ... but can be used to create something magical, something that has permanence. Paint doesn't have this sort of permanence and as a result, is subject to be summarily changed or replaced. I tend to pay more attention to the things that will remain for as long as the building is in place.
Bob's original photo from Paris
I hope you have come to appreciate Bob as a valuable resource for the architecture industry as well as for his immense creative talents. Do yourself a favor and add Bob's blog, Life of an Architect, to your daily reads. It's well worth it for the education alone. Thank you, Bob, for being a part of our Creative Types series.
* All photography and artwork are courtesy of Bob Borson and can be found on Life of An Architect.