13 years, 4 months ago

Perfect Arch :: Our journey and inspirations so far

Together with my colleagues Andre Kampert and Sergej van Middendorp, I am part of a new consulting practice named PerfectArch. All three of us are independent consultants, and having worked and collaborated with each other on assignments in the past, we wanted to formalize our collaboration as a brand. We had some ideas about the values we wanted PerfectArch to represent, and we put together a design brief and submitted it to PimTim, a marketplace for graphic design specialists from all over the world.

Over the course of 21 days, we received an astonishing 193 entries. We tried our best to give feedback to all of the designers, although it was tricky giving artwork feedback to people who obviously knew more about art than we did. We eventually narrowed our choices down to 5 options, and we finally selected a design from Nathan F. Lowenhart. The following is an excerpt from our design brief:

The perfect arch is a reference to the 2500 year-old pursuit of constructing the ideal arch that would look beautiful, that would provide the function of creating open space, and be capable of supporting heavy loads such as a stone roof. Ranging from the flat arches of early civilizations, the steep arches of the Cathedral builders, the low-curvature of Chinese bridge builders, to the ornamental arches and domes of the Mughals, the development of a better arch requires knowledge of the sciences, aesthetics, and engineering. The perfect arch is an unattainable ideal, and the brand reflects the pursuit of coming as close to perfection as possible given the constraints of the physical world, the realities of time and budgets, and the needs of our stakeholders. We at PerfectArch are part of the journey to discovering ideal architectural patterns to solve complex problems, but recognize that the journey to perfection is never finished.

A collage of arches

Next, we brainstormed about the themes that inspire us. Andre came up with the idea of showing continuity in nature through the course followed by water, where there is a clear cycle of creation, evolution, and sustainance. Our colleague, Daniel, drew some excellent vector diagrams from scratch to reflect the concept of water finding its way from the clouds to the mountains, then flowing to the sea, and then finally evaporating again to become clouds.

Cycle of Water

Sergej inspired us with a reference to Rudiger Safranski’s biography of Nietzsche, who pictured Nietzsche by the sea drawing ideas in the sand, and seeing the sea wipe them out, then trying a new line to see what the idea looks like afresh. This reminded me of one of my favorite poems, “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the 2 significant lines from the poem being:

The little waves, with their soft, white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands,

We tried to capture the theme of waves effacing footprints throughtout our site. The transient nature of our designs reminded me of the dangers of hubris, which perhaps is best captured in the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The foundation of PerfectArch is around 5 practices, each being a pillar that supports a design whole. Andre and Sergej designed the icons of each of the pillar out of sand, to indicate that each pillar requires the pursuit of constant shaping while facing natural forces.

Personally, I’ve found the journey of discovering a common message a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to doing more assignments with PerfectArch.