As host of Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud so eloquently pinpoints the beauty and horror of modern-day renos. McCloud's 'Things I've Learnt' grace the pages in Smith volume four, but he had so much great stuff to say that we've published some extra words here.
THERE IS NO VISION WITHOUT RISK
Taking risks defines what it is to be human. The moment we are old enough to make any responsible decision, we could all just decide to climb into our own coffin and shut the lid from the inside. Taking risks is getting out there and pushing. It's allied to and inseparable from vision. Vision and risk, risk and vision are partners. Anybody who has taken large risks, whether they're a rock climber or a parachuter, or somebody building their first home: they will tell you that in the midst of the mayhem you feel more alive than you ever have done before.
RESOURCEFULNESS IS BEAUTIFUL
There is an extraordinary magic in human beings, and I've seen this in the slums of India and I've seen it in suburbs with grand houses.. Even in the most despondent places I've seen people decorate homes made out of earth and cardboard boxes and they are sometimes very beautiful. In the most anonymous places it is still possible to create beauty through resourcefulness. We all have a pair of hands and a head. We can think and we can do. And it is that ability that allows us to mould our environment. The environment can be repetitive and dull and monotonous, but we can still respond by making it beautiful, or making a beautiful thing.
GOOD DESIGN MAKES THE WORLD BETTER
I can't think of a single reason that you should give up good design for practicality reasons. Good design is a process about trying to make the world better, it's about improving the quality of our lives, and it can be applied to planning a meal just as much as it can be to choosing a shirt or designing a city. And that process runs right across all aspects of human experience. You can design things well that are really cheap. You can design things that are repeatable and are accessible. The project I started was to make really well-designed, affordable, sustainable housing that would promote community that was not expensive to produce. I don't think there's any contradiction between good design and volume, or good design and mass products. Kevin McCloud's 'Things I've Learnt' are featured in Smith volume four. Find your closest stockist here, buy volume four here, or subscribe here.