Looking to Architecture and Design Film Festival to Hone "Live-by-Design" Skills

09/28/2010 03:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Last week I read about the upcoming Architecture and Design film festival in New York and could barely control the excitement!!! It promises to celebrate "the creative spirit of architecture and design" by engaging the audience in the "thinking process." I was beside myself.

I made my flight reservations and contacted Kyle Bergman, the mastermind behind the film festival, within an hour. I could not calm down. Paola Antonelli who has written that "everything is designed, one way or another," is on the advisory board; maybe I will get a chance to discuss "Live-by-Design" ideas with her!

After all, the creative approach is the focus of my book that "marries" architecture and self-help. My subject is the logic behind a great building. I make a case that a strategy used specifically for the purposes of designing an impervious enclosure can be extrapolated, embraced and applied to the human experience.


It's all about constructive thinking, isn't it?

A few years ago, it dawned on me that I have been subconsciously using design as an ordering device to make sense of my own challenges. As an architect, I have been employing familiar tools to assist in my constant struggle with unresolved childhood trauma.

Indeed, raising two daughters, the process that has involved inventing children's toys, teaching children's architecture workshops, and taking up creativity coaching, has morphed into the most important "commission" of my career. Admittedly, being my own client has been extremely gratifying. I have been able to take the time, experiment, correct mistakes, and consider every tiny, yet significant detail!

As a creativity coach, I have been coaching through design. For instance, the concept of uninhibited movement pivotal to the creation of the lofty volume of the Guggenheim -- which happened to be one of the most challenging of Wright's commissions -- can be conjured up while combating self-doubt.

If we think of life as a design medium, we can control it!

Simply, if we focus on the concept of making something, the process of conceiving, planning, designing, and building can be applied to our ever-changing and evolving lives.

Design professionals are trained to problem-solve while shaping and transforming the physical side of the environment. They:

• Have extensive academic preparation
• Posses specialized knowledge
• Are familiar with technical standards
• Are expected to adhere to ethical standards
• Are legally responsible
• Have completed a long apprenticeship

What about shaping and transforming the cognitive side? Who has the expertise to design your private inner sanctuary? It is such a personal matter...

To "live-by-design," means to be the one in charge of that imaginary place of your own where you can be actively receptive, attuned. To assist, you can engage "the architect" within. There is nothing that complicated about it. Perhaps, you have been doing it all along.

Top 20 design techniques professionals employ [and so can you]

I. Conceive [Construct your thoughts to serve you]

• Understand thoroughly [Dig deep]
• Conceptualize [Go back and forth between details and a big picture]
• Prioritize [Make choices]
• Let go of what does not work [Permit natural flow toward harmony]
• Expand [Augment, synthesize, refine]

II. Plan [Un-nerve your worries and doubts]

• Use your "design" eye [Know yourself, trust your gut feeling or heartfelt sense]
• Pay attention to context [Make limitations work to your advantage]
• Organize [Acknowledge that the whole is more than a sum of parts]
• Integrate [Conjure up a coherent narrative]
• Articulate [establish new connections]

III. Design [Dignify and elevate routine]

• Embrace the unconventional [create in any form you like]
• Turn constraints into possibilities [solve problems]
• Focus [pay close attention]
• Generate and cultivate ideas [do not stop too early]
• Start without knowing the outcome [don't wait for inspiration]

IV. Build [Attain self-actualization and enrich the world]

• Brake new ground [face uncertainty, take risks]
• Build the infrastructure [start at the source]
• Invent fresh approaches to old problems [be receptive, flexible, open]
• Strategize [link, amplify]
• Strive for steady progress [evolve, discover]

Quite straight-forward, isn't it? Or are you still skeptical?
Just get into the mindset of being your own client and design accordingly!

Alla Kazovsky teaches "The Architect-in-You" online workshops

The sketch of the interior of the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright: Miller Yee Fong, Architect.