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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sketchbook of the Moment

Earlier today I was speaking with my publisher about the impact of digital technology on good-old-fashioned books, after which I saw the Sentient City exhibition. Needless to say I was feeling awash in the technology that is changing the way we absorb information, interact with each other, and encounter the city. So I felt a tinge of sentimentality when I came across The Hand of the Architect, a "limited edition Moleskine book filled with [378] drawings from 110 internationally renowned architects." Flipping through the pages, for a few moments the rush of the digital (if only in my head) gave way to a calm and slowness that hand drawings seem to embody.

[The Hand of the Architect | image source]

Of course hand sketches in their various media (graphite, ink, wash, crayon, marker, etc.) are good for much more than perspective in today's get-carried-away-with-technology world. They convey thoughts and ideas in particular ways that are much freer than any digital counterpart. Unencumbered by the need to learn software, the hand-brain connection allows the latter to figure things out as the former touches pen (or brush or quill or whatever) to paper. In other words, making a drawing by hand forces one to confront what one is drawing, thinking and understanding what each line, stroke, dot, field of color describes.

Books like this one from Moleskine are timely reminders of how digital tools can't replace all traditional ones, particularly pen and paper. For example, the research for my book is documented via a mix of spreadsheets, digital map overlays, digital photos, and a notebook (a Muji, sorry Moleskine). The last is a collage of notes, sketches, and pasted images, an ideal canvas for me for jotting down ideas at home, on the train, in front of a building, wherever I may be. But my research cannot exist without the digital components, and I'd also have a hard time limiting myself to just the bytes and bits.

So it should not come as a surprise that in addition to the "glimpse into the sketchbooks of visionaries like Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, Piero Lissoni, Kengo Kumo, Mario Botta, Tadao Ando, and many more" is a "companion special edition blank journal" for budding architects and others to fill up.


1 comment:

  1. While many tend to throw away the sketchbook for a mouse pad. I think that a hybrid approach is the best approach, I also don't buy the argument that students should only work with pen an paper before hopping onto a computer.
    I cant wait to get my hands on this book.


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