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, and that his erudite and charming commentary comes from the background of an architecture degree.
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.
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.
According to some internet “quotes” sites, which I presume are correct, and if not correct, they are certainly interesting, 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: “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.”
More things to think about from Kevin.
More things to contemplate about good, even grand designs.