Harmony: A New Approach To Design Thinking

Mollie Gladish
Posted on: 06/05/17
Written by: Mollie Gladish
Topics: Leadership

walking field-1-383506-edited.jpgThere is no sound more moving than a beautiful harmony. A Capella groups with all vocal ranges, singing together with just the right amount of volume and passion does wonders for the soul. And if you notice, you never hear one voice over another, you hear full-bodied music with each person mastering his or her specialty all the while sounding as one. Sometimes there are soloists, but that is all a part of the strategy and ultimately strengthens the entire experience.

While most of us in the A/E/C industry don’t have goals of reaching pitches and vocal ranges, we have our own harmony to achieve. Our harmony can be heard, seen, and felt in the design of beautiful forms, the creation of experiences, and the development of processes.

It is really quite difficult to define harmony. It would be easier to describe how it makes us feel or how it moves us or even changes us. And just as hard as it is to define it, it is even more difficult to achieve it, that element of speechlessness when walking through a building or staring at a piece of art.

There is no set method or strategy that guarantees this experience either. But maybe that is the beauty of it: its rarity. Some buildings, structures, experiences, or design approaches just strike a chord deep within you. However, while there is no guaranteed technique to achieve this mystery element, I have formed a theory of sorts, a theory which I believe could make an ordinary group of designers into artists.

This theory centralizes on the conditions of the environment in which design is birthed, rather than the actual design itself. While a certain degree of expertise is expected within the disciplines, I believe that it is in the purest of environments that designs are made that propel us to that sacred place of harmony.

Further, I believe that each one of us has the ability to dream, to create, and to wonder. Yet, how much of life has taught us to keep those things to ourselves or even shut them out? While the problems we face each day seem very real and seem to need real, logical solutions, what we might really need is something to change our perspective. And for us to create something that changes our perspective, we must set aside the fears of being mocked, judged, or ridiculed for pushing the envelope. And that’s what I want to do, challenge designers, employers, drafters, contractors to do the following and ultimately take away:

  • For the bosses, foster environments that are welcoming to new ideas that push the envelope. Also, work with your employees to be considerate of the differences in the office. It’s those differences that make such a strong team.

  • For the employees with intuition, don’t hold back, throw out big ideas that challenge people to reconsider the norms.

  • For the logical and reasonable employees, don’t be too quick to shoot down ideas. Challenge yourself to be more creative, or use your logic and reason to make crazy ideas that come from someone else possible.

This short piece of literature was inspired by this idea and could act as inspiration for all of us to dream big, engage the imagination, and let go of all judgements as we create spaces, forms, art, and ideas for the rest of the world.

Abandoned fears and welcoming fears, 
Is a place that everyone reveres,
But if fear keeps us from brainstorming,
We will only create what is boring,
So let’s pardon each other’s differences,
And go beyond all appearances,
Where you can be you and I can be me,
That’s where we’ll reach true creativity. 


About the Author: Mollie Gladish is the marketer and graphic specialist for a small engineering firm in Southern Indiana. Her degree is in Interior Design; however, she loves all outlets of design.

PSMJ is always looking to publish diverse views on emerging issues and trends in the A/E/C industry. If you would like to respond on this topic or comment on any other, we invite you to submit a 500-word post on any industry-related topic. We look forward to hearing from you.

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