Designing for the Dialectic / 2019
A thesis compendium,  a document that contains recollections, writing, and investigations toward forming a research plan for the thesis year.  

Year: Spring 2019

Typology: Book

Size: 5 x 8 in
Paper: Mohawk Strathmore Soft Gray 80c

Typefaces:  Maison Neue, by Milieu Grotesque and ITC Century by ITC.

The Thesis Compendium was our first attempt at articulating a thesis research plan. Connecting what were previously isolated islands of research interests, the goal of this exercise was to identify underlying thematic and conceptual threads that spanned our work up to this point. As a consequence, we could narrow our lines of inquiry specifically to those research interests that would pave the way for our thesis the following year.


        I learned that as an individual, I have always gravitated toward territories where dialectical tensions (in the Hegelian sense) ran high; where theses and antitheses fiercely collided.
        In architecture, we referred to such arenas of opposition as thresholds, or edge conditions. And it was at these very sites that human encounters, conflict, and learning, were at their most intense. I have always enjoyed making work for, and within these spaces of dialectical oppositions.
        For example, whether it was the Reverse Colonial Project where I highlighted the importance of the colonies in shaping the English language, or reconstructing the Indian Habit Chart to suit the 21st century, I was using graphic design as a means to weigh in on fiercely debated subjects, steeped in histories of colonization and political paternalism. In other words, by focusing on things that have become ubiquitous fixtures of our lives, like language, or dated educational devices, I can unearth their histories, and change how we speak about them in the future. In essence, I was decentering discourses.
        An equally significant learning from the compendium exercise was my affinity for aesthetic honesty. Drawing from the work of figures such as Lina Bo Bardi, Renzo Piano, Carlo Scarpa, and Constantin Brancusi, I noticed that each of them operated with a simple rule: show a structure for how it was put together; and reveal a material in its purest, most unadulterated form. It was that reverence for material honesty and structural transparency that I admired. To them, there ceased to be a distinction between structure and form; the structure, in fact, was the form. To me, each of these designers was, in a small way, breaking the Brechtian fourth wall. Design wasn’t about aesthetic artifice anymore. And that was tremendously inspiring to me. Buoyed by this realization, I too aspired to produce work that was honest and stayed true to the structural constituents of any design exercise.

Designing for the Dialectic / 2019 Of Hedgehogs and Foxes: The compendium began with an introspective essay where I speak of the Greek poet Archilocus who divided human beings into Hedgehogs (specialists) and Foxes (generalists). I deemed myself as some kind of a cross between the two.

Designing for the Dialectic / 2019 Like an architect running a site study before an intervention, my method of addressing any design prompt involves a contextual inquiry into how I can either improve the current state of cultural affairs through my intervention, or simply improve the discourses around important subjects.

DESIGNING FOR THE DIALECTIC/ 2019 The compendium contained a section dedicated to terms, concepts and phrases that were important to our subsequent thesis investigations.

Designing for the Dialectic / 2019 Making sense of what were previously impulsive aesthetic choices was an important step towards understanding my practice. Seen above are NLÉ’s Makoko Floating School, Lina Bo Bardi’s Sesc Pompeia, Carli Scarpa’s Brion Cemetery, and Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Center in Paris.