October 15, 2012

If at first you don't charrette...

I want to tell you design students this, I remember almost year ago how scared, shy, and insecure I was when it came to joining design charettes and competitions. Maybe it was the overtly competitive nature of architecture school, I just felt insufficient at times joining in on the action (falling behind was quite a demoralizing blow for me to overcome). Professors and peers around me were willing to ask others if they wanted to join a competition or charrette and I would just feel insufficient in joining them.

It came to a point I wasn’t joining charettes, I was actually scouting and looking for people to join charettes when I was a student group leader. I was promoting design competitions sponsored by my architecture student group as opposed to joining them. I felt insufficient at times, because I let that label of the “failed student” get the best out of me.

I had to put myself in charettes myself, I wanted to try the experience and I signed up for my first one at the 2011 AIAS FORUM in Phoenix, AZ – finding the ones I’m interested in and joining them, and after one of my classmates asked me to join him and our other friends for a design competition, it was those experiences that really helped boost my esteem as a student. Open your doors to opportunities to design and network. Cause’ If you at first you don`t charette; charette! charette! charette! 

Image Source: AIAS FORUM 2011 Wordpress Blog - Charrette

My first charette was actually at the AIAS Conference in Phoenix. My second was at the ENYA Future Now Summit, and the ACO Next Gen Charette was my third. I had a blast; it wasn’t as stressful like a studio project where you will be marked or you can fail. Joining and participating on these events was fun by working with groups of people, discussing, and designing. It was fun quickly getting ideas down. It was more practice to public speaking and working under pressure.

Some charettes and competitions I performed well, and some I know I wish I could have performed better than others, some I was more proactive taking leadership roles, while others were different. The only way to get better is to keep on throwing yourself in the deep end of the pool to get yourself swim and gain from the experience. To keep putting yourself in these pressured scenarios to not let fear get to you. It’s the only way to build your skills as a designer, presenter, and entrepreneur.

I remember watching Inside the Actor`s Studio featuring the great comedian Dave Chappelle. He was mentioning his first time performing in NYC during amateur night at The Apollo. He was saying how his performance was a huge crash and burn. Dave was confronted to an audience of people from different ages booing him off stage at the onset. However, he mentions how failure made him fearless, he learned how to cope with the worst case scenario, he realized it wasn`t the end of the world, and that became his new baseline to learning how to adapt and deal with a greater level of stressing 
scenarios. Failure and putting himself out there made him resilient.

So I conclude with this, the only way to keep getting better is to put yourself in these experiences that challenge you to grow and evolve as a designer. If at first you don`t If you at first you don`t charette; charette! charette! CHARETTE!

Attending the ACO Next Gen Design Charrette
The Future Now Summit!
I Just got (AIAS) FORUM'D

1 comment:

  1. I think it would be helpful in this post to separate competitions from charrettes because you really get a much different dynamic between them. There is overlap between the styles, but a charrette conjures a very specific mentality and time frame. They usually last a few hours or max a few days, they require furious action, and the end result is usually still a rough mock up of a final idea. Competitions on the other hand, generally have longer drawn out schedules, require a more polished presentation and many times award a project at its conclusion. Because some competitions have shorter timelines, a charrette is sometimes a part of it, but for the most part I think you can write about these as separate types of collaboration.

    The two main points I think you're trying to make here though, revolve around not being afraid to collaborate and don't fear failure. Many people avoid the "group project" like the plague, but inevitably almost all projects you will work on your career will involve collaboration. The trick is finding a team that works well together, challenges each other and wants to achieve the same goal. Participating in a competition is a great way to feel your fellow mates out and see if future collaboration works for you. I even know a number of firms that have actually started this way.

    As far as fear of failure goes, it's never something that someone can tell you to do - it has to be figured out on your own. Failure (for the most part) is not the end and you have to go through many of them in order to reach relevant goals. Unless your path in life is a completely straight line up, you've reached failure at some point. So to you point, keep trying, put yourself out there and don't be afraid to fail.