The true power of design visualisation

I heard an interesting story on the Tim Ferris Podcast.

He was interviewing a mad scientist who was experimenting with micro doses of LSD.

They gave some to an architect once. In his experience, this architect saw in his mind the design he was working on. He walked into it in his imagination, he saw every single detail, the door handle, the floor, the wall finishes. When the trip was over, he probably drew what he saw on paper and showed the idea to his client. The client loved it, and they built it.

Now I’m not suggesting you should take LSD as part of the design process, but I’ve been working with architects and designers for 20 years and I’ve noticed a pattern: people seem to design more and more from the outside in rather than the inside out. Let me explain.

In the story above, the architect sought for inspiration by looking inside his imagination, he probably closed his eyes and his subconscious mind unfolded in front of his mind’s eye. This resulted in a undeniable certainty about his design.

In a lot of situations I have met, probably for a host of very good reasons, the designers felt under unbearable pressure from the client or timescale, or the temptation being too strong, they jump onto google image search, or architizer or designweek. I’ve heard the sentence too many times, “I want it like this but not like this”. This results in a definite uncertainty about the design. We end up with mood boards with too many images on them, 10 different options, a confused team, deadlines not met, or just an unoriginal bland design that’s been done before. Ever been there?

So how can we design from the inside out without taking LSD ? The answer is something which I found about only recently and which really surprised me since I have been a 3D visualiser for the past 20 years ! So the answer is called visualisation and it’s incredibly simple. The architect in the story was induced in the state by the drug but each and every one of us can do this very easily with no drug at all. I’m am so surprised they didn’t teach us this at university!

So it’s easy, all we need to do is put ourselves into a state in which our subconscious mind can talk to our conscious “busy” mind. To do that, we need to reach a state of relaxation which resembles the state we are in as we are about to fall asleep, where our mind is incredibly alert, external sounds and mental images are extremely clear and enhanced.

We need to go in a quite space, sit comfortably or lie down and breathe deeply and relax our mind, perhaps by closing our eyes and by taking consciousness of our bodies at first, starting from the feet all the way to the top of the head. Breathe a few times and relax. Then, we can focus our mind on our design, see the outside of the building first perhaps and see the front door, then walk in and look around, feel the space, smell the air, see the light streaming in, feel the floor under our feet, hear the sounds of people talking in the distance.

Now when we do this, we’ve seen the design, we know what it is and all we need to do is show it to other people. If we can draw, we can communicate this idea to other people and move forward, or we can work with a 3D visualiser and illustrate the design. In my work, I try to get into people’s mind and show them the picture they had in their head but sadly, i often find that there is no picture there.

The non obvious benefits of VR

Today there is a lot of talk about VR. Is it going to change our lives or is it just another hype?

Billion dollar deals, vast expectations from the public and corporations alike, this new technology full of promises ignites our imagination. But with so much emphasis on technology and so little on content, one may just wonder whether it’s all just another hype?