Fiona McKenzie rubs shoulders with Mr Grand DesignsKevin McCloud from Grand Designs is an icon

Grand Designs is the name of a popular UK tv show.  It has been replicated in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

I was happy to meet Kevin McCloud a few months ago. He was every bit as charming as the TV series “Grand Designs” suggests. To me, he’s an icon, (to which he replies “stop it”).

But many people assume that Kevin is an architect, because of his knowledge about building design.  Could it be that his erudite and charming commentary comes from the background of an architecture degree?

Not so.

And I think that’s great. Because I think what makes a Great, or Grand Design, are the things that make a difference to people, whether they are “qualified” through a particular university degree, or not. Which means that anyone with a good eye, a sensitive spirit, and intelligence, can assess and communicate about good design.

In terms of our building and furniture design businesses, what makes a Grand Design involves the same sorts of design processes.

Kevin’s brilliance lies partly in his assessment of design, space, materials, light, feelings and science. It lies also, importantly, in his communication skills.

What makes a Grand Design, as he often says, is a range of things that are about the human experience. Sometimes direct and frank and in your face. Sometimes subtle and quiet and complex.

Quotes from Kevin on good design and Grand Designs

According to some internet “quotes” sites, which I presume are correct, Kevin has said some memorable things about grand designs.  Kevin has said things like:

“Every decently-made object, from a house to a lamp post to a bridge, spoon or egg cup, is not just a piece of ‘stuff’ but a physical embodiment of human energy, testimony to the magical ability of our species to take raw materials and turn them into things of use, value and beauty.”

“Building design isn’t trendy.”

“Architecture and design is all about making spaces that are beautiful, stimulating, durable, fun, exciting, joyful.”

“Do not be led only by price but look for value and craftsmanship. Buy only things and materials that respect the human energy that has gone into them and where the maker is rewarded fairly”.

And on the negative side of our design world, Kevin had a colourful thing to say.  Quote: “Sustainability is now a big baggy sack in which people throw all kinds of old ideas, hot air and dodgy activities in order to be able to greenwash their products and feel good.”

We’ve written about greenwashing, which is something to watch out for.

More things to think about from Kevin.

More things to contemplate about good, even grand designs. Visit Perelson’s website for some tips if you’re looking for project managers.

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