What is Archive?

An Archive is a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.



In design terms, an archive would basically be every thought process and idea we have had from our very first days of becoming a designer, on wards. Having an archive of work and ideas over the years allows us to go back and refer to inspiration we have came across, and to also see our progression as a designer. It is also amazing to see just how much a designer thinks! We are almost hoarders of thoughts and creativity!

The best and easiest way to document design processes is through sketchbooks. Every designer uses their sketchbook in a very different way inspired by very different things and it is highly interesting to see just how each individual chooses to use theirs.

sketchbook portmerion

Above are just a few examples of how some designers/artists decide to jot down their ideas. Doing this helps them remember things and is very useful if they are on-the-go and just want to quickly  sketch something and then refer back to it later.

Another way to document is to photograph the things we see, again this is  ideal when we see something which catches our eye out in the streets and we may not have time to write/draw it out, so taking a photo is a perfect way to file inspiration. An archive of photographs over the years can then be started and we will be able to look back to this whenever we like. You can start to see what a designers office may look like right? Yes… Lots of stuff.

Drawing in a sketchbook teaches first to look, and then to observe, and finally perhaps to discover – Le Corbusier

And this couldn’t be more true! When we look at something we interpret it and understand it in our own way, from observing something we see we then begin to think about it deeper, and from this we gain knowledge and learn something new. Once a designer is inspired by something they will remember it forever, we take bits and pieces from everything we see and eventually we have our own unique technique and approach to design. This is what keeps design and innovation alive, inspiration and interpretation, the more we see and the more we explore the more ideas we have to share and pass to other designers.

I don’t sketch to make a beautiful drawing, but to resolve ideas – Eva Jiricna of Eva Jiricna Architects

By this she means that, a sketchbook full of ideas and questions is supposed to be messy, it is supposed to be un-kept and unfinished, this is the beauty. We may sketch an unusual building on our travels, one of which we haven’t seen such texture or such form, on a later day we may see a building with similar qualities, and it is then that we gain knowledge of something new and a question has been answered. We may be rushing with excitement at the though of a creative project but not have an ideas on how to approach it, suddenly by looking through our archive of sketches and ideas something may come to us, and then something beautiful will be created.

Eva Jiricna Sketchbook, 28.10.15, http://www.thamesandhudson.com/Architects_Sketchbooks/9780500342688
(Fig.5) Eva Jiricna Sketchbook

I really would advise anybody to start an archive of their own kind, just grab a sketchbook and write/draw anything you see, think, or feel. I don’t mean go crazy and document every single thing you are doing, not at all! But if something really touches you or inspires you, photograph it or sketch it, this way you will definitely remember it forever. Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger calls this sketchbook documenting process ‘wild thinking,’ and indeed it is as it is not planned, but triggered at that very moment.


(Fig.1) Sketchbook header, 28.10.15, http://thehurttlocker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/sketchbook-archive-044.html

(Fig.2) Sketchbook, 28.10.15, sketchingarchitecture.blogspot.com

(Fig.3) Sketchbook,  28.10.15 http://illusion.scene360.com/art/46712/architectural-studies/

(Fig.4) Sketchbook, 28.10.15 http://www.betsillworkshop.com/sketchbook.htm

(Fig.5) Eva Jiricna Sketchbook, 28.10.15, http://www.thamesandhudson.com/Architects_Sketchbooks


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