Talking Shop – Design

Brian Lefholz

March 1, 2017

Like most architecture offices, we are really busy a good majority of the time. Project deadlines, meetings, and job site visits have us running in different directions all day. To say it’s almost impossible to get the entire office together for anything short of our annual Thanksgiving potluck is not an overstatement. So when the first invite was sent out for “Design Discussions”, I was hoping five, maybe ten people would show up. At the most. When the entire office showed up I realized I had severely underestimated the level of interest and the amount of pizza required for such a crowd.

The Design Discussion series was started to foster conversation about all things design. To gather as a group in an open forum where everyone’s voice and point of view carries the same weight. To debate what is considered good design, explore the merits of bad design, and vent about the absolutely absurd design that leaves people saying, “Why in the (….) would they do that?” or “What the (….) were they thinking?”


These discussions have led to great conversations and debates about design topics ranging from Starchitects like Zaha Hadid, Sir Norman Foster, and Bjarke Ingels (link to Garrett’s blog); to The State of ART in Architecture; to Good Design in Places NOT Named California. With a geographically diverse group here, we share a variety of unique perspectives on each topic. The latter presentation was given by non-native Californian’s about great design work happening in Montana, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. Yes, it’s true. Some of the best design work is happening in these so called fly-over states. At least this born and raised Midwesterner believes that.

The presentations follow roughly the same format each time. We begin with a brief opening that asks more questions than offers answers, followed by 5 to 10 minutes of presentation on the selected topic. This is by design and leaves the bulk of time for group discussion. The subliminal plus side to all this is that it requires the presenter to put together a concise and to-the-point presentation, edit their material, manage their time, and practice speaking in front of a group. All great tools we use on a regular basis. Bonus.

D+B’s culture is built on good design. Forums like this help us continue that legacy.

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