The world is big enough 2021-01-15 14:04:51

Pixar’s 20-acre campus in Emeryville, California isn’t for everyone.

On one hand, its design makes getting around woefully inconvenient: where short and efficient right-angles and straight-line paths could’ve been built, there are funny curves and contortions.

On the other hand, maybe quickly getting to one’s office or to the subway station isn’t the point. Maybe the curves and contortions are not the product of bad planning but the result of trying to achieve something else entirely.

As Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace note in Creativity, Inc: “[Pixar’s campus] has well-thought-out patterns of entry and egress that encourage people to mingle, meet, and communicate”.

Efficient travel isn’t meant to be the campus design’s killer app. It’s about enabling the creative process through happy accidents and detours along the way from A to B (because getting to B isn’t enough) that involve you exchanging ideas with people you may or may not be working directly with. Or so the theory of magic goes.

Pixar’s campus really is the best and the worst. For those who revel in the serendipitous encounters that fuel their creativity, the campus is just the thing to do the trick. For those who would rather be spared the delay: it leaves much to be desired.

Designing for average is a myth. Some people like their drinks hot, others cold. That doesn’t mean we should try to appease both ends; no one is lining up to buy a lukewarm drink. Pixar’s campus solves Pixar’s problem and for everyone else there are plenty of other buildings.

Likewise, your creative work won’t solve everyone’s problem and it doesn’t need to. If the people you serve want a hot drink, make an unapologetically hot drink; for everyone else who really wanted the cold one, someone else will make it. The world is big enough for it all.

William Liao

The hook moments
Ah I was just thinking how in sync this was with what you were writing yesterday. And then this line:

Designing for average is a myth.

In the future could you write your explorations on why we fall into designing for the average? Why do we think there is an average we can design for? 
2021-01-15 15:33:23
On another note, this kind of campus design makes so much sense for Pixar. Their mission and products has never been about efficiency or immediate utility. For me I know that Pixar has always served as a deep emotional and purposeful tinder. Something that sparks me within the context of imagination and inspiration. 

I think the #1 pitfall of design actually is transferring form over to other contexts without considering the contextual change. In this case the form is the campus. This form would be terrible in the context of the busy NYC subway. 

But then someone could argue from a more existential scope why must we have cities with 8+million people where they all run the rat race through such an efficient subway? Shouldn't we design a society that doesn't require such efficient infrastructure? Wouldn't it be great to have a society where everybody lives in the meandering magical serendipitous world of Pixar? 

And I agree. That would be nice. Keyword == would
2021-01-15 15:41:51
This is a great example to make your point. By the way, the default for coffee is HOT. If I say I want a coffee, it should be assumed that I want it hot. Let all the other johnny-come-lately's speak extra words to specify their cold brews and iced varieties.
2021-01-15 16:10:01
Thanks! Thankfully I believe the assumption for the order 'coffee' is still HOT!, haha.

I have a post for tomorrow that is related to why average doesn't make sense and is even inhumane. Copying form irrespective of context is also 100% a related issue (again, because not everyone wants hot coffee - in the context of 
 it is, but for someone else it might not be). I see your point on questioning the design of cities in general, but I fear that 'rat race' might be a little too reductive in the sense that sometimes we really do just want to move quickly to achieve certain things quickly. Not all things, granted. That said, I would like a culture that prizes serendipitous encounters more greatly - I do think this is possibly the case a lot of European countries. It's also why I am a fan of remote work, it makes connecting with other people throughout the day a lot more feasible. 
2021-01-15 19:47:42
I really like how you put this. Designing for the average is inhumane. Just like brewing an average tea is not tea. If you have three friends. One likes black tea, the other green tea, and the other white. You already know what you shouldn't mix the three. you're not going to have any happy tea drinker that way.

2021-01-16 14:05:01