If you are an architect, an aspiring one, an architecture aficionado, or maybe a client looking to get inspired—then you probably track the many digital feeds that filter architecture and design. The world of marketing for the contemporary architecture studio is responsible for a proliferation of imagery that floods our lives and gives us our daily #architecture fix. We’ve grown accustomed to this barrage of visual information. These days, an architect's precedent research begins on Instagram and Google Images. Seeing what other designers are “up to” is easily accessible, albeit controlled by the creators. In the constant flow, we have become less critical of these fly-by's, so that all we see is a muddied realm, real and unreal, produced by intellectual and amateur alike.
This feed, the ever-evolving digital ecosystem for architecture imagery, could be defined as Plato's khora, a realm fluidly inhabited by ideas that are pertinent to our life experience but that come and go, and change. It is the new undefined space of our time. Consider philosophers/psychoanalysts Julia Kristeva and Slavoj Zizkek's interpretation of the khora, which resembles our feed even more: as a place with "differentiation and self-identity, yet still a space in which elements are without identity and without reason.” Current architecture imagery from the new “khora” is the consequence of the multitude of architectural theories coexisting around the world. What we make of those pixels has been ordained by the algorithms that brought them together and put them in front of us, and easily, we lose control of our initial search—if there was one to begin with.
In the past, the design thinking and conceptual underpinnings of any era were always in the hands of the few. Most architects, designers, and like-minded people adhered to emerging schools of thought by reading manifestos or following leading scholars and their work. An analog and playful example of this now antiquated global design order can be found in The Devil Wears Prada. The film’s antagonist, Miranda Priestly, explains to her new assistant that the "lumpy blue sweater” that she’s wearing (conveying her lack of interest in fashion) is nothing but a trickling down of the CERULEAN gowns shown by Oscar de la Renta four years previously. Miranda explains: "that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact you're wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room". In this pre-feed order, there weren't influencers so much as there were design gods.
Now, for better or worse, the new khora puts us all on equal footing.
Hite, Jean. Reflections on Khora: Maternal matrix of Julia Kristeva and Slavoj Zizkek's. https://jeanhite.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/reflections-on-khora. February 15, 2012
The Devil Wears Prada. Directed by David Frankel. USA. Fox 2000 Pictures, 2006.