An Exercise in Repetitive Change

by: Juan Caceres


“Making the model is an essential aspect of my work. I produce it from some solid material. I don’t make just one, but several models which I can compare and then select one to continue working on. In this way the idea becomes clearer and the mistakes more apparent.”

–Tapio Wirkkala


     The above statement comes from one of the most innovative figures in post-war design. Wirkkala, a Finnish designer and sculptor achieved mastery across a myriad of mediums. His work was born at a time when all design was done by hand. His experience in working with models lead him to understand the design process as an exercise in repetitive change.  

     His principle rings true across all disciplines. “Mistakes lead to perfection” should be the battle cry of anyone attempting to form and shape the physical world with creative will. A design project offers copious opportunities for finding good design in the spaces where initial ideas and concepts didn’t pan out.

     The digital medium allows for changes to be made on the fly; an advantage Wirkalla could have only dreamed of. While it’s rare, the times I have been able to discuss changes with a client and then make those changes happen right there in the meeting have been all too satisfying. We’ll never be able to say when a mistake might lead to a change that ultimately leads to perfection. We’ve had projects that needed redraws twenty different times, and others that required only slight variation from beginning to end. In either case the design found its way to completion - through the clarification of ideas - by way of mistakes. This is the principle Wirkkala refers to in his statement.

     As designers working in collaboration we’ll never accept the design as complete until all our creative abilities have been applied to the project. The results should yield a space our clients love to live with, and we are proud to showcase.