the Chaos Theory by Design

Sept 14, 2009 6 minutes to midnight.

8:15am…Drop off my son at first day of Kindergarten…with Mama and the baby along for the ride of course…get to work early, park on sidewalk in front of the shop (because I can), stroller out, baby out, girls off for a run, keys, door, alarm, office light, list ready…bank, post, Garibaldi Graphics…STOP!  Did I hear that?  What was that?  Did the reno workers in the suite upstairs drop something through one of the four new holes they’ve drilled in my open concept ceiling?  Or is it….no…yes, it is, “Drip!” the one thing that can put an end to any perfectly planned and functioning day, water.

Move everything, bucket too big for the corner, use the cut off pop bottle we use for filling the mop pale because it fits in the sink, wipe, move, there it is, “Drip, plop!”  Call the neighbors upstairs, call the strata manager, call the emergency number and suddenly 8:30 something has faded to 10:00am and nothing is done, time to open the shop. 

Meanwhile, moving piles of boxes away from the drip and counting cash bring reality back to the forefront.  10:00 something, still not open, run boxes upstairs to storage, no time to chat with strata guy whose daughter started kindergarten today too, meet the girls back from their run, trade keys, doors open, DVD, music, lights (already on), TV, open for business.

The drips stop and in the ensuing chaos my office has shifted fully to one side of the room, the side with my desk of course, and the “OCD” of unmentioned childhood instinctively turns on the nesting gene (either that or the excess estrogen father’s generate when a baby is born…it’s true) that leads to sorting, tossing recycling and/or re-use-it centering every item on my IKEA Expedit shelving unit of timeless design. 

 I pile old Skate, Surf and Snow Magazines on the Pique Newspaper rack outside in a new enviro concept – ‘Free-use-it’, buyer’s guides, notes, paper, more paper and some other paper I should never have printed to recycle, a broken bike tool to trash, a bag of old banners, doubles of other tools I have never used, old phones and calculators to Re-use-it, and finally, when the smoke clears…mop the floor and I’m ready to get to work.  (This took most of the day by the way…not too many customers on mid shoulder season chilly rain, cloud, sun days.)  And then I found it; the October 2007 Masters of Design Issue of Fast Company Magazine I bought at YVR on my first independent business flight and think to myself, By Design…this all happened by design.

The statement, “by Design” has a god-like sense of perfection.  “By Design”…like it has always been or better yet like it was meant to be.

Rewind to the 70’s.  I remember as a kid coloring with a pencil, light, dark, shadowy shades of grey that created the impossible imaginationscape of a child.  The pencil, by design, was the infinite; it was simplicity and complete purity.  It still is.  Like Ansel Adams seeking perfection in black and white in his darkroom (if you haven’t seen his autobiography find it), I knew at 4 or 5 or maybe 6 that I had vision…that the picture I was drawing had the potential of purpose and intent, that the picture was there to tell ‘you’ how ‘I’ see, how I feel.  Emotion; there is something so simple and yet seemingly so impossible to capture.  Adams said anyone can take a picture.  10% is being in the right place at the right time but the other 90% was developing the image to help people see what he saw.  By design there is so much more to art and design than we see firsthand after the creation is complete. 

I bought the magazine amidst one of the most physically creative times.  After the better part 17 years working the seam for fortune 500 retailers I was about to demolish the core of a 14 year old photo shop, built by a guy who laid the tiles on the floor by hand himself, and literally build my first business from the ground up (or ceiling down as the case turned out).   With the mastery of seasoned builders (my sister and my brother in law) in a week, just 7 days, by design, my design was there.  (Yes, 7 days…sound familiar? Ha, ha!)

By design the hand of god graces the Sistene Chapel and now 500 more years of history meet to bridge heaven and sky at the point where their fingers touch.  Someone said, “Surfing big waves is too thrilling to be an egocentric thing.”  It is so true…the same can be said for design because in the moment, in the rapture of the creation, in bringing the vision to life simply nothing else exists.  Not time or tide, nor any other conscious thought, pride or motivation, or even being for that matter…there you are alone and complete. 

Less is more…so much more.  When we let the experience create the invisible, the impossible, the rest will follow by design.

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