What is good design and how does it impact your church facility?
We live in what I have heard Daniel Pink describe as the dawn of the conceptual age.
As we moved long ago from an agrarian society to an industrial society to an information society, we are now making the transition to a conceptual society.
Pink in his decade old book A whole new mind talks about this transition subtitling it Why right-brainers will rule the future.
As most know the brain is dived in to two hemispheres and in generalities the left side is our logical side with the right side being our creative side. Breaking this down a bit more, the left side thinking grasps details. Things like logic, sequence and analysis take place there. The right side takes care of our thinking related to the big picture it synthesis information, controls our emotions and gives us the big picture.
Pink outlines reasons for the rise of the right brain and its importance in the "conceptual age". Part of what he argues is for the importance of design.
Design, at its core is our ability to create our environment in new ways that serve our needs and give meaning to our lives.
Paola Antionelli design curator at the New York Museum of Modern Art in her TED talk, Treat Design As Artstates that her view of heaven as satisfied curiosity. She has also been quoted regarding design, "good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need and beauty to produce something that the world did not know it was missing" I would add that good designers have the ability to synthesize current needs, issues and culture.
Good design will create something that never existed or it will have people interact and have a new behavior with it. BMW's Chris Bangle states: "we don't make cars, we make moving works of art that express drivers love of quality". A car is not new, but Bangle sees design as providing a new way for people to interact and experience a car. Design dives into our emotional response to an object or what is around us.
The Tabernacle was a good example of God's design and laid out in detail in the book of exodus. It provides us with some insight into design:
1) The tabernacle was first and foremost a very functional facility.
The tabernacle was designed to be used, each of the Tabernacle had materials used based on function and purpose. It also solved the problem of a holy God dwelling in the midst of a sinful people.
2) It displayed wealth and beauty.
The Tabernacle was a work of art.
It was inspiring and directed people's thoughts and emotions to connect with God.
3) The building of it involved all of the people.
Designed for use by all people. It was also build by the very skilled craftsman who would worship there.
4) It reveals the character of God.
The excellence of the tabernacle, both in its materials and its workmanship, is a reflection of God.
5) While composed of various elements, it displays the unity of all, in design, function, and purpose.
The design was complete, it was a sum of parts that all came together to produce a hole that was greater than the sum.
Through the Tabernacle God reveals that design is not just about objects, art, function or beauty. It is about all of them with an emphasis on the behavior that these elements produced.
In today's contemporary church I see a lot of emphasis on stage design.
Stage design being band layout, sets, projection or video elements and lighting. A large number of new churches that have been built in the last decade or are under construction are what I would call the black box sanctuary.
If you have been to a production at a black box theater you know exactly what I am referring to.
Black stage walls black ceiling black covering on the stage floor. Black box is great because you can create an infinite number of "looks" by using set pieces. A good set designer can take this "blank canvas" and turn it into whatever scene or look the designer desires.
For some churches stage design is visited every week and different elements are used to give a new or different look every Sunday.
Others do thematic stage design that is built around the current message series that is going on. Some do 4 sets a year, generally built around the four seasons in nature.
Not all churches are black boxes and thus have elements that already exist and need to either be covered or designed into the new look. www.churchstagedesignideas.com is a great place to get ideas and to learn about design techniques.
Design not only applies to the stage in the sanctuary it applies to the entire facility. From traffic flow in the parking lot, the signage that directs you into the building to the artwork on the walls. Design applies to almost every element.
The late Steve Jobs said "Design is not just what is looks like and feels like, design is how it works" I believe that good design also grabs our emotions and drives our behavior in how we interact with it.
Take a new look at your facility and apply some creative design ideas to raise both the form and the function of your building. After all, Design, at its core is our ability to create our environment in new ways that serve our needs and give meaning to our lives.