February 3, 2011

Creative Role: The Modeler

Words have limits. When they’re given shape and volume, words become a picture. A writer turns words into paragraphs, which in turn become an essay, short story, novel or screenplay. The results are models to behold, when thoughts have taken on new dimensions and provoke new meanings.

One discipline that requires model-making to inform its decision-making is architecture. Architects rely on models to make sense of space that is often loaded with a lot of factors. When asked how “the essence of architecture” is taught to students in Japan, architect Kengo Kuma speaks to the iterative revelation of models:
“I don’t speak with them without using models. Computer images are not enough. We always talk in front of the model, or in front of the mock-up, or in front of real three-dimensional items. If we’re facing that kind of a real thing, the conversation can be real. The conversation without those items cannot make anything. That is a rule of mine in the university. The discussion in front of the computer screen is not so fruitful I think. Because the image is just basically image. It is very limited, very thin. Even a small model is better than an image. I like a big building model and a big landscape model. That way we can know the relationships between the two. You can feel the relationships. And that is essential for our design process.”
Words escape inertia by way of a model—which doesn’t need to be 3D. Models can also take on the form of diagrams, cartoons, illustrations and maps. Making a model arranges words into a visual composition. It helps people see the words, if not the brain waves, of what is being discussed, or even argued. In either case, models feed the imagination.

Tap into your inner modeler.

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This is the fifth piece of a series focused on the lively cast of characters whose roles make the play of Creativity. In case you missed the previous Creative Role, meet the Contemplator.

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Typographic illustration, tailormade for this series, was done by Shawn HazenRead his Designer’s Quest(ionnaire).