Book Recommendation: 101 Things I learned in Architecture School

Some years ago I read this book at the UX Book Club and it is one of those books with messages that stick. In this book Matthew Frederick lists the things that you learn when studying architecture, but that can be applied to other areas as well. Apart from being a nice and inspiring read it is also very well crafted and printed.

Architecture is one of the most inspiring subjects for me, since it is so broad, so many things – sociology, politics, human factors, building technology – need to be considered. As a former UX designer I noticed some parallels between my profession and architecture: An architect is creating spaces for people to use, to live in, to enjoy (“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space” – #8 in the book) – as a UX designer you do the same with digital spaces and also for me as a researcher there are a lot of things from this book that I can use for my profession. For example I found the following things particularly inspiring:

#1 – How to draw a line

Every line has a beginning and an ending. Be distinct in your drawing and put an emphasis in your lines. When I looked at this chapter I suddenly realized why my colleague’s whiteboard drawings looked to good. Since then I used this simple technique as well and it proved to be quite helpful in my consulting career.

How to draw a line

#28 – A good designer isn’t afraid to throw away a good idea

This is something that I have to remind myself of every day, but luckily for me this has never been so hard. You come across many great ideas, however, they might not be the right solution to your problem at hand. The solution you are creating should tackle a specific problem and be an “integrated whole”, not a collection of great features.

#77 – No design system is or should be perfect

I am a huge fan of the 80-20 rule and perfectionism is not one of character traits. This is mainly because in the past years often enough I have experienced that projects that you put a lot of time and love into and try to make them as perfect as possible, get thrown away. So you shouldn’t worry to much about the concept of “perfect”, and remember that imperfection and flaws make a design more interesting and remarkable.


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