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The Dirt on DIRTT

Posted June 16, 2011 in Classes & Presentations

 Our second speaker Tuesday (remember, there were three) was Geoff Gosling, Environmental Designer at DIRTT.

Geoff GoslingThe name, DIRTT, can be a little deceptive. DIRTT is an acronym for Doing It Right This Time. How many of us have said, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d….” Long story short, the company CEO did have the chance to do it over again, and DIRTT certainly is doing it right.

Kendall’s mission is to prepare students for lives as artists and designers, and Geoff fills the bill, as both an artist and a designer. His undergraduate degree is in sculpture, and his master’s degree is in industrial design. And his mission? To eliminate interior drywall walls.

At Kendall, professors tell students the process that is to be used in creating a design, no matter the field. Gosling tells us that we should be allowed to create our own process in problem-solving as we strive toward solutions that promote sustainability. Pretty heady stuff for the room full of juniors and seniors, but students sat up straighter when they heard this statement.

Geoff Gosling 2

Geoff had other tips for students. And one involved rules. “Rules create freedom,” he said. “Consider your daily commute to school. Without traffic rules, there would be chaos. With them, you are free to drive whatever route you choose, and you know you will probably arrive at your destination safely When it comes to design, the more you understand the restrictions, the better your design will be.”

He also warned students of the hazards of designing a project before all the necessary information is at hand. The pitfall? You could fall in love with an incomplete and inappropriate design that isn’t a solution to the problem at hand.

Geoff had other words of wisdom for our students. “Beware of the experts,” he cautioned. That isn’t to say that their information isn’t valuable, but get out into the field and experience the environment the way the end user does. He also added:

• Know what the problem really is before you design the solution. “Looking at other solutions to understand the problem is like eating beef to see what grass tastes like.”

• Swing a hammer. Don’t just sketch or sit at the computer. Get out there and build. Work with Habitat for Humanity. Build a prototype.

• Remember, nature always wins. Designers must understand the limitations and mechanical properties of the materials you’re working with.

• Make mistakes. Without exploration and willingness to fail, you’re never going to learn.

• Listen seriously. Pay attention to what people are asking for. Clients will often come with their own solution to what they believe the problem is. You have to dig deep to discover the actual problem on your own.

• Lastly, never fall in love with the stuff you create. When you do, you stop evolving as a designer.

That was on Tuesday. Wednesday, we paid the DIRTT showroom a visit. To say that DIRTT builds walls is to say that the Grand Canyon is a ditch. DIRTT walls are amazing.

Dirtt plant wall

Would you like some green space in your office environment? You can have a plant-scape DIRTT wall that’s a snap to maintain, thanks to its innovative watering system.

DIrtt butterfly wall

Would you like a wall you can write on, but is far from a boring plain white surface? Yep, DIRTT can help you there, too.

dirtt you're so vein

DIRTT also designs and manufactures cool cabinetry for the medical profession.

They also make doors, floors and other pieces and parts needed to create a cool, permanent-yet-movable room. “Think of LEGOs,” Geoff urged us.” You can use the same pieces to build, tear down, and build, over and over and over.”

Dirtt Smed ICE software

DIRTT has created their own software, ICE® that allows practically anyone to build a virtual DIRTT environment in practically no time. It also lets you know if your design is impractical. Once finished, the system hands over an itemized list of parts needed.

Dirtt deck

Our tour of the DIRTT showroom was made complete with delicious appetizers served on DIRTT’s beautiful deck overlooking the Chicago River.

And that’s the dirt on DIRTT!

–Pamela Patton


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