Joe is one of the most well-rounded people I know. He thinks intensely about his craft, he bikes ALL over town (sometimes with a fold-up kayak on his back), and has a genuine giggle whenever I see him. He is also the only person since graduate school to mention the french philosopher, Jacques Derrida, casually in conversation. I think this renaissance quality is why his architecture covers a wide range of genres, from a colorful modern yarn store to the newest building at argonne laboratories.
Joe's Creative Process :
It's revealing that different careers peak in creativity at different timescales. Pure mathematics peaks at a young age, such as Srinivasa Ramanujan who greatly contributed to certain branches of number theory and mathematical analysis at the age of 20. By contrast, historian Jacques Barzun finally completed the book "From Dawn to Decadence," a five hundred year history of Western Modernity intended to be his university thesis work, when he was 93 years old.
Background work. It appears to me that all great creative work has a lot of background analysis that occurs first. Sure there is the spark of assembling things differently, a non-verbal process of allowing the brain's neurons to make connections between disparate concepts. The writer Italo Calvino thinks that this non-verbal part begins as images, commenting "images rain down from above." I like this thought, since when i work, the connections arrive as images, as non-verbal prompts available for further testing and evaluation of appropriateness.
Doodling. That seems to be the best place to start: small, tiny, sketches which hide complex details. This non-verbal working through of multiple options, is when the images rain down from above. Then it's just a matter of "corralling" the ideas into physical reality. This is the vast majority of the process, and it includes many more iterative cycles of analytical thinking, looking for connections, finding the best images, and technically transferring them, communicating them, into reality. For me the repetitive cycles of working through the creation of, the assembly of, a building are really fun.
It's not for the squeamish. Creativity is hard precisely because one exposes one's inner self to the world. It is the way it has to be I guess. Different people have different tolerances for exposing themselves. Some artists expose their subconscious selves through their work. Others expose their political thoughts, and still others have performative methods which provide a sense of camouflage, an attempt to protect their inner selves from exposure. In fact many famous musical performers, for example Michael Jackson, are very different beings than their stage presence appears. It often seems, in my experience that non-creative people are really just people who are afraid to expose themselves (yes certain MBAs come to mind). And this is fine, it is nice to have different people around, because life has more complexities than I can understand. Such people have other demons (we all have our demons) and they rightfully can work on those.
Beauty in lifestyle is what I chase. There are so many ways to live, and when analyzed, all are valid responses to the complex environments people have navigated. Some people might be afraid of exposing themselves, others may expose more than necessary, and yet all people contribute to the rich mosaic of humanity that we call life.
You can find out more about Joe here www.animatearchitecture.com