Charette

I first was introduced to a Charette while working with Scenic Design. The creative director has architecture training,and […]

I first was introduced to a Charette while working with Scenic Design. The creative director has architecture training,and used this technique often.. it’s well suited to the web.

“A Charette is an intense effort to solve any architectural problem within a limited time…. There are two main advantages to working in the context of a charette. The first is that a charette operates in a highly collaborative atmosphere. Instead of an architect taking ideas and plans and going away to develop them on his or her own, a charette allows for the participation of everyone involved with the project, resulting in a highly charged and creative atmosphere. The inclusion of many points of view results in well-rounded and realistic proposals, with everyone satisfied that they were able to contribute. Secondly, Charettes are fast, and relatively inexpensive.”

We’ve just started one at Yahoo! yesterday, and today as I read mr jones again, and find he is too. Perhaps we’ll have to compare notes after.

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  1. 3
    Victor

    Personally, I don’t desire the entire design process to be “highly charged.” Sometimes it’s iterative and analytical and quiet. Besides, there comes a point where a bunch of people in a room lose energy and reach of point of diminishing returns, and it can be more efficient to divide up specific tasks that have arisen based on expertise and do those individually.

  2. 4
    Victor

    Personally, I don’t desire the entire design process to be “highly charged.” Sometimes it’s iterative and analytical and quiet. Besides, there comes a point where a bunch of people in a room lose energy and reach of point of diminishing returns, and it can be more efficient to divide up specific tasks that have arisen based on expertise and do those individually.

  3. 5
    DJ

    Er, pardon me for jumping in but isn’t that what most people would call a “brainstorm“. Why do we keep having to use different names for things that already exist? Is it a way to make us feel more important?

    IA = the “scene-that-celebrates-itself”.

    Cheers, d

  4. 6
    Christine

    Without being familiar with the term “charette”, I’ve participated in few. In fact, my company called them “intensives”. I’m curious about the ways others have conducted this type of meeting and how they felt about the process.

    I feel the process is economical and effective (although enormously exhausting) when finetuning the design of a long term project. Personally, I would never be comfortable in a charette with a new client. Even taking on a charette with a familiar client is jittery enough.

    Seems to me that a couple of factors contributed to the success of our charettes:
    1) FOCUS: limited scope of the session keeps the meeting from becoming a tangled forum of differing agendas. While team leader would be at a white board capturing on-topic comments and fleshing out discoveries/process, a secondary person would be at another section of room capturing off-topic comments for later discussion).
    2) FACILITATION: having clear roles for recording (video), documenting (from white board to spec), and participating (working in concert with one another). What starts as exciting can easily become frustrating if there’s a team member that refuses to accept others’ ideas.

    But all things considered, I still cherish the project time I spend to carefully and deliberately build a design. Charettes seem to be more of a shocking interruption. I certainly don’t volunteer the idea to clients if it can be avoided.

  5. 7
    Ron Bridges

    DJ raises a good point. Is a “charette” a particular kind of “brainstorm”, with different procedures and “rules of the game”, designed to achieve a particular outcome, or is it simply a bunch of people frantically trying to come up with a workable gameplan in an extremely short period of time? Does it produce better results than solitary,deliberative planning, or just different results? What actions make a “charette” different than what most people call “brainstorming” ?

  6. 8
    christina

    A charette, at least the way we have done them, are very different from a brainstorm. Basicly the design problem is given to a group of designers… three or four. We discuss it, work through open issues, and then seperate to design. Then at the end of the day, each day, we show each other our design solutions. Every steals from everyone else’s ideas, exchanges photoshop files as necessary and designs again the next day, to exchange solutions at teh end of that day. this goes on for three or four days, and at the end of that time, usually a strong lead design made up of many aspects fo the early designs emerges.

    So why not do it on every project? Good question. I wonder if it is more suited to some kind of design than others… very complex applications where design has subtle repurcussions might not work… but then again, it might…

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