July 20, 2015

In its purest form, architecture is shelter. Architecture protects us from many things. It shelters us from the elements, like soaking rain or blistering sun. Architecture also defends—from trespassers or the relentless noise of the city.

But architecture is more than a roof over your head, more than a wall against intruders. Architecture is more than psychological armor, and more than a physical fortress. Architecture is much more than something that guards us from the negative.

In fact, architecture is a container of the positive.


July 3, 2015

Writing my business plan for Poon Design Inc. decades ago, a small paperback on entrepreneurship suggested that I think about an existing company that might be a model for my future company. The topics at hand were not about the business model, profits, size of staff, or geography—or even design style.

Rather, the topic was about design culture. What kind of design culture did I envision for Poon Design, and what architectural firm inspired me?

The answer was a New Jersey company: Michael Graves Architecture & Design.


June 20, 2015

I believe that both music and architecture are languages. Through music and architecture, I can speak to an audience.

When I play the piano, whether it is a classic or my own composition, I tell a story. This narrative, my point of view, is also why I create architecture. In both music and architecture, I can tell a story to a single person, or to an audience of 10,000. I have created both musical and architectural experiences of sensation, character and emotion—over a passage of time—whether playing a short piece of Chopin’s for a friend, or creating a university library in which students begin the work of realizing their dreams.


June 5, 2015

Late 2015, Los Angeles will welcome two new museums: The Petersen Automotive Museum and the art museum simply called, The Broad. Before discussing these civic structures, let’s step back to the architecture of museums in general.

Traditionally, museums are empty vessels that come to life when artwork is inserted. This museum architecture is a neutral backdrop.

In opposition to this premise, architect Frank Gehry’s 1997 Guggenheim Museum is a work of art itself, and symbiotically co-exists with the art and sculptural installations.


May 30, 2015

Are architects celebrities? Are they rock stars? Do “Starchitects” exist amongst mere mortals?

Years back at UCLA, I attended a lecture by Pritzker Prize, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (my Harvard professor). Endless crowds lined up all day in advance for the evening performance. Upon opening the doors, the large auditorium was full in seconds. The organizers opened up two additional auditoriums with the lecture to be broadcast on screens. All this, and masses of people still could not fit in the venues. Front row: Brad Pitt, Martha Stewart, Dianne Keaton, Michael York, Vidal Sassoon, and other design fans and fanatics.


May 18, 2015

Architecture companies that do more than architecture impress me.

I don’t mean the firms that provide additional services like interior design, landscape design, master planning, and/or graphic design. If you are a Design (with a capital “D”) driven company, than your field of Architecture (with a capital “A”) should inherently include such endeavors.

The recent passing of Michael Graves brings to mind how inspiring it is when an architect evolves and branches out, elevating his talent beyond the category of “building design,” which sometimes sounds like creating a mundane parking structure or coordinating an air conditioning system. Mr. Graves launched a Post-Modern movement of designing for all functions, for all people, at all scales. (Teapot, anyone?)

© Poon Design Inc.