In the many hours of lab work that go along with getting a degree in architecture also came a bombardment of idiom-axioms that apply to the design process. Many are attributed to famous architects. Other idiom-axioms, I think, were just annoying things that my instructor would say for lack of something original in the way of a critique. You may have heard, “Less is more” and “Form follows function”…those still rattle around in the back of my head. I’m OK with those iconic-architectural skeletons. Those quotes take on different shades of meaning when applied to clay art rather than architecture.When working on a personal assignment this semester, another old idiom/axiom floated to the surface: “Good is the enemy of the best”. This generally speaks to process more than it speaks to results in terms of design. That first sketch of a project might contain glimmers of brilliance (good), but additional development with an eye toward uniqueness often leads to “better” and “best”. I have experienced this on many levels in my years on a personal level as well as a collective/collaborative level. In a Google world, it is humbling to sketch up something that appears to be world-shattering-unique, only to discover that another individual has already done something similar and posted it online. But that is where the Good-Best uncomfortable dichotomy comes into play. Yes, I look at those sketches or the results of other artists and ask, “Is there another level above this? Is there a best that would be the enemy of these (good) results? Is there a twist, parody, derivative that will take me there?”
There are many questions that I ask myself when reflecting on sketches that have been set aside to mature or mellow. What once looked like a great idea becomes something better simply because of the original glimmer of good. So, enemy might be harsh, considering that good isn’t all that bad. But when it comes to striving toward best, a shot of reality harshness, be that from a humbling Google search, a mellowed sketch, or constructive criticism may be what it takes to be unsatisfied with good.
What may be the most difficult lesson to learn is that the trash can is your friend when good sketches push you toward best designs.