1. Understand existing drawing sets
You can claim to understand a set of drawings, but to be a top-notch architect, you must be able to get past just navigating through a set of drawings. Make sure that you ask questions and truly understand the content. Always make the most of opportunities you have to challenge yourself and get a sense of what it is like to go from start to finish.
Remember, that a plan is created to think through all of the future possible problems that will need solutions. So by seeking to understand why you are doing what you are doing you will be better off in the future. It’s by understanding how things work that we are able to create them ourselves. Always take your learning into your hands, and do not let others define what you learn.
2. Observe your mentor very closely!
Once you have found a mentor or two, make sure that you are not just hanging around and following exactly what they do. Ask them why they use a certain technique over others. The goal here is to observe and learn from how they do it. A great mentor will explain the process as they are doing it, so that you can better understand the final product.
You want to learn about the things that maybe are not always said out loud, but are understand within the profession. Think of it as a work culture that you must learn about to better work within the culture.
3. Sketch, sketch, sketch
Sketching has been around for a millennium and is crucial to improving your design skills. The benefits of putting your pencil to work on paper, and patiently working through the problem that must be solved is something invaluable for you to have. Be honest with yourself about where your skills currently are, and that way you can have a better chance at creating a solution that actually targets the roots of the problem. So get to sketching and working with your hands every single day!
Start your own project on the side where you can practice all of these new skills you are getting, and that way you can also apply your sketching and design to a project of your own.
4. Follow architecture resources (i.e. blogs) and make use of design books
We are all influenced and inspired by other people we look up to. Well, when you are not sketching away through the night, you can find inspiration and ideas by following architecture resources such as blogs, lifestyle/design webpages, El Croquis or other architecture magazines. All of these and more can be great resources to take advantage of when trying to improve your design skills. If you can see how other masters at work do their craft, then you have other mentors to look up to.
Every day, try to focus a half hour of your day towards finding new fresh literature, projects, or interviews with top designers to better understand how they view the world through their design lenses. A wonderful place to start would be Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture or the Encyclopedia of Detail in Contemporary Residential Architecture by Laurence King.
5. Keep your design glasses on!
Keep your process as simple as possible! For example, in the beginning of your day, you must read through a design magazine to draw inspiration. At the end of the day, come back to this inspiration and start sketching what comes to mind. Ask yourself, what makes a project “good”? What do the greats include and what do they not include in a design?
Focus on specific design elements and compare them with other projects. Try to understand how a designer thinks through the process, and as you go through your own design process write down notes and ideas that are in your mind. The first step is being able to take information from diverse sources and digest it in different ways. Always keep your design hat on cause you never know when creativity might strike!
When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-US, and improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.