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“God is in the details” so declared Mies van der Rohe, the famous German born architect and one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture. It’s a phrase often quoted in architecture and design schools to inspire upcoming talents to consider the smallest decisions and make each choice in their projects highly considered.

It’s a good philosophy and those who have adhered to looking at their work with a discerning eye that not only makes broad sweeps but also considers the smallest moments, have given us some truly amazing moments in architecture and design.

Christian Liagre

But when does perfection become the enemy? This became a topic of discussion the other day between myself and another colleague. It came about because he was complaining that another colleague had come through their project that they had recently completed and instead of noticing all that was done with a discerning eye and a high level of skill and execution, they pointed out everything that was wrong. Commenting on all that wasn’t “perfect” in their mind.

door detail

As you can imagine this can be quite frustrating. But it is what we, who are in this industry, have been trained to do. We are asked on a daily basis to look at space and objects and put them into a form that is aesthetically pleasing, detailed, and in essence, perfect. We are looking for what is out of place, what is wrong that is creating dissonance in a design. Picking it apart to make it better, always better.

If we are good at what we do, we do indeed make it better but I think its important sometimes to honor that which is already working. To make note of and point out successes, along with that which didn’t succeed.

Wabi sabiSometimes what is imperfect is actually what can make it perfect. Just look at what success Axel Vervoordt has had with his work and his base philosophy of WABI SABI. Wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection.


Now granted, he is still very concerned with the details and execution but there is an ethos of honoring that which is unexpected and details that sometimes defy perfection.

With Thanksgiving approaching this has come to the forefront of my mind as the whole spirit of this holiday is about being thankful for what we have. It is not about lamenting over that which we don’t have. Its about honoring the successes, the positives in our lives.


Do I want my work to be perfect? Of course. As my husband will tell you, I will work a detail to death, staying up late into the night to get it just right. However, I’ve set my mind to trying to remember that perfection can be a double edge sword and that I need to be thankful and mindful of all that is good and good enough.

Images courtesy of http://www.archdaily.com, http://www.jealphilippepiter.com, http://www.feedly.com, http://www.wabisabi-style.blogspot.com, http://www.hollygregor.com, http://www.modernsauce.blogspot.com

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