Your Red… is it the same as mine?
Alright, I have to come clean, I’m not a fan of red. It’s not that I dislike it. It’s just to unpredictable. How many different shades are there, any ways? Possibly, like a billion? Is it a brownish red, pinkish red? Coquelicot? Whatever that is! Could be anything…
And that’s how it all started. What is your RED? I remember the first time I asked. I was sitting with a client who was trying desperately to describe the feeling of her new house. She was frustrated, her husband was at the end, and this whole project was going south. I was one of many architects they were interviewing, as she was forthright about telling me “Architects don’t understand.” I sat quietly and listened. What she was describing was not what she envisioned, and I had to tell her somehow. Sitting next to the conference table was a basket of fruit, (nice gift from a client, by the way), so I picked up a beautiful, large, nicely proportioned red delicious apple, and set it down in front of her. She looked at it and said, “No thank you, I had lunch.”
“No, it’s not for you to eat,” I responded. “It’s a simple answer to a complicated question.”
“What color is that apple?” I asked.
“Red” was the response.
“Well what particular shade of red? Is it warm, cool, does it have subtle undertones?” I asked. I received a long blank stare.
“If I am going to design your home, I need to understand how you perceive things. I need to know “What is your red.”
She took a deep breath and started to describe the colors she saw. Deep red. Medium red. Light red. Really light red. I listened to each shade she came up with. When she finished I responded with, “light red, you said. Are you sure the top of the apple is light red?”
“Well it’s lighter than the rest” she affirmed. She was digging in now. I glanced at her husband, as he shifted in his seat towards the table. I knew he was enjoying this. Calmly I placed my hand over the apple, shadowing it from the light. The top was instantly darker.
I said, “It’s possible that what you see, what you perceive, is not always what you describe. When I block out some of the light, the apple becomes darker, more evenly toned. So, while I must understand what is your red. You must understand that it is possibly something else. Based on this, we can establish a vocabulary, and start the process.”
I design residential buildings. I knew in grammar school this was my calling. My grandmother nurtured my curiosity. My dad taught me that I can build anything. It was later on that I discovered the best answers come from listening. People say a lot when you are quiet, and sometimes it’s entirely different from the actual words. So again, “what is your red?”
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