Like many professions, architecture and interior design has a unique language – commonly referred to as “Archispeak.” Unfortunately, some design professionals use it when talking to clients and non-professionals who often have little idea of what they’re talking about.
Even Teri Gross, NPR’s “Fresh Air” host (not someone who has difficulty understanding complex subjects) recently said that one of the reasons she’s only interviewed a few architects on her show is that “it was frustrating trying to understand what they were saying” and she had to resort to “asking them about their childhoods to get enough material to air!”
Much of the jargon legitimately provides an easy way for design professionals to communicate with each other or with clients who are familiar with the language of the building and design professions. A few examples are: fenestration (doors & windows), chase (a framed shaft for pipes or ductwork) and cantilever (a beam or structural framework that is supported at one end and carries a load at the other end or along its length). Other terms, such as materiality (what buildings are made of), typology (type of building) and architectonic (related or conforming to technical architectural principles) can seem a little pretentious, especially when mutated into obscure statements that some architects and designers use to try to impress clients or other people. Grant Snider’s cartoon (above) humorously translates some of the gobbledygook into everyday language.
At our firm, we work hard to clearly communicate and avoid the use of jargon, unless it’s something you may want to learn more about – like LEED (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program run under the auspices of the U.S. Green Building Council) certification, our "less is more" design philosophy or some of the specialized services we provide.
If you’d like to learn how to master “Archispeak” and impress your friends with up to 40,000 profound design statements, click on DIYAD (Do It Yourself Architectural Dialogue). To learn more about the types of projects we've helped clients with, please click on representative project examples.
SMarchitecture / Austin
a blog about smart design + architecture + interiors