Award-winning architect Bob Borson shares his inspirations

Ever wondered how architects find their inspiration when they're designing the wonderful buildings around us? Then meet award-winning America-based architect Bob Borson from Life of an Architect. This week he guest blogs for ACHICA Living and gives us an insight into what makes him tick...
[Image: Bob Borson - eyes shut and on the roof]

Favourite way to find inspiration

'Simply looking at the everyday items from my environment is a good start when it comes to finding inspiration – for example, I love the colourful workbox of a street fair balloon animal artist (above). Seeing something that you like, and then taking the time to understand why you like it, is a very rewarding process that frequently affects the way you ultimately see a thing.

Other than that, I am deluged with design magazines and trade periodicals daily and while the information is sometimes outdated by the time I see it, the process of critically looking at what other designers are doing is very inspirational.'

Favourite building

'It is almost impossible for an architect to tell you what their favourite building might be and I'm no different. I can tell you that one of my current favourites is the Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée (Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy), part of the French Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (Natural Musuem of Natural History) located within the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.

The building is done in an architectural style called ‘Naturalism’, sort of a generic term for Art Nouveau, Organic Architecture, and Expressionism. Art Nouveau was an anti-historical movement that was predominantly in Europe between 1890 and 1914, and as a style was developed by a generation, most likely as a response to the Industrial Revolution, who sought to create an art form appropriate to the new modern age. The building has seen better days but it doesn't take an architect to appreciate some truly magnificent spaces and forms.'

[Image: Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie Comparée, Paris. Photo by Bob Borson]

Favourite design piece

'Of all the "what's your favourite" type questions I could be asked to answer, this is always the hardest one for me. My taste and personal sense of style has been settling in over the last few years and I am comfortable in liking the things I like.

I do have my reasons but there isn't a singular piece that speaks to me. I could choose something classic where the design has proven itself and stood the test of time - or I could choice a new piece where the thinking is innovative and exciting. Regardless of whichever piece I did choose, they would share certain practical traits as I think good design should be available to everyone. The Knoll Hardoy Butterfly chair (below) is possibly my favourite design piece...'

Favourite designer

'I’ll say Dieter Rams - the German industrial designer who trained and worked as an architect for a few years until he joined the electronic devices manufacturer Braun. As part of his design philosophy, he developed 'Ten Principles for Good Design' that are possibly even more relevant now than ever. If you look at the work he produced, you can see the impact it made with many of today's designers.'

[Image: Dieter Rams and his designs]

Favourite museum

'That's an easy one for most architects - the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (completed in 1972). It redefined how museums and art galleries used natural daylighting and is truly a modernist masterpiece. I am also lucky that it's in my backyard and can go and visit several times a year.'

Favourite hotel

'My wife spent some time living in Ireland as a child and a few years back we went to visit some of her old stomping grounds. During our trip, we stayed at Gregans Castle Hotel in the Burren located in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare. The interior of the hotel was an interesting mix of antique furniture and contemporary art, and the food there might possibly be the best I've ever had, but what stole the show and endeared Gregans Castle Hotel to me forever was we "picked" up our daughter while staying there.'

[Images: Room and gardens at Gregans Castle Hotel]

Favourite city

'It has to be Paris. I have been several times myself and this last year, I took my wife and then 5 year old daughter there on vacation. I really like the speed at which the city moves, but it's also easy to love the food, the museums and the architecture.

What made this last trip so great - something that I hadn't ever taken the time to appreciate before - was the number of outstanding parks and green spaces there were to enjoy. Our hotel was across the street from the Tuileries Garden and we spent many evenings walking the grounds while my daughter chased the birds.'

[Image: view from our hotel room in Paris]

Favourite hobby

'It might be easy to say cooking, but for a long time I thought that if this architecture thing didn't work out for me, I would become a chef. As it is, the closest thing to a hobby I have is smoking barbeque. I live in Texas, the Lone Star State, and we take our cattle and barbeque very seriously down here. I have more than one smoker and always a big pile of wood on hand - there is something about that manner of cooking that requires patience but the reward is always worth the wait.'

[Image: stack of firewood by Bob Borson]

Favourite recipe

'Lemon Chess Pie from my mothers recipe. I'm a little surprised that this was the first thing that popped into my head because I don't eat many sweets, but some things are more precious because of the memories associated with them. If I eat four pieces of pie a year, three and a half of them will be lemon chess.'

Favourite way to spend the weekend

'A great weekend for me would include sitting on the couch with my family and watching a movie, followed by having some friends over for dinner and drinks. Those familiar with me know I love telling stories and I'm prone to hyperbole and as a result, I love to entertain small gatherings of people because the stories that get shared are so different from what you might get in a large gathering. Here's a picture of my famous margarita, which I'll be enjoying this weekend...'

To find out more about Bob Borson and his work, visit his site and blog Life of an Architect

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Becky Yardley, Guest Writer

View all posts by Becky Yardley, Guest Writer

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