• Shana Fannon

Breaking all the Rules

There are moments in my life in which I realize I am missing something or need to reach for something I need desperately-connection. Connection is something I have found is absolutely necessary for a positive outlook on life, allowing for support and love when I need it. I truly believe that connection, deep and meaningful connection is not possible without authenticity and vulnerability. As a designer and as someone who has sought connection throughout my life, I have begun to contemplate the difference between Rules and Absolutes and the affect true connection has on those two ideas. Furthermore, what vulnerability and authenticity look like in the built environment.

Absolutes in my life are things like gravity, authenticity, connection and love. Rules are things like, wash your hands before you eat, look both ways when you cross the road, put on your seatbelt before you drive or more sinister rules like 'Whites Only' or 'Women Need Not Apply'. Worse still when they are understood or unspoken rules accepted and passed down through generations. I have found that rules can be harmful when not grounded in absolutes. I am seeking to open up a dialogue, begin a conversation. How do rules protect us but can also hurt us or other? When do they separate us from fear and courage or when do we seek to use them as a buffer between us and our fears? Where have we created rules instead of facing our fears? What does this do to our ability to authentically connect with one another, to have open conversation and dialogue, to discuss difficult things, to walk through our fear? I believe that much of my life has been experienced as holding my fear by the hand while embracing courage-or at least the parts I am proud of and have deepened my experiences. I don't think that fear ever leaves us, I believe it is always there and maybe we keep it in check not with rules but with Authenticity.

Taking these thoughts into the built environment...Can design, by its very nature create, bulster or re-design culture? I believe so. Many companies have sought to incorporate the physical environment of their businesses into their marketing plans, business plans and re-vamping of culture. Companies do this for a variety of reasons; to entice a variety of groups of people into their businesses, help with employee retention, allow people to fully enjoy what they do, provide rest in tense or stressful work environments, etc.. The question I am asking myself is can we take it a step further? Can design create physical inclusive language? Can it encourage connection through vulnerability? Can design be part of a larger social purpose? Can we create an environment where we break down the walls that divide us spiritually, physically and emotionally/mentally-while encouraging intimacy and connection-creating a safe space? Can we perhaps even 'trick' or rewire our minds into diminishing our fear or taking courage along with us into a conversation? Having enough courage to start a difficult conversation? Even more challenging...to stay in a place of openness enough to remain present and connected in a difficult conversation? Can the built environment remind us to be kind, honest and gracious with/to one another. How does a physical environment create inclusivity?

For me, at the moment this falls under one large umbrella question. How does a physical, designed environment, create recognition of human absolutes? That question is at its essence part of my design tenants. It is my WHY. I am not the first in the architecture and design world to propose these type of questions or ideas but maybe pioneering it in a different way. I think for each person, when you ask these questions or even these type of questions, the answer or even how to answer them is unique to you and your experience on this planet, your talents and who you were created to be. Every persons purpose on this planet is unique.

To bring it to a close we are back at the beginning. Connection. We are so much more powerful together than we are apart. I am at this moment in my life seeking artists, clients, designers, artisans, mathematicians, medical professionals, engineers...etc, who can challenge me in my thought processes and preconceived ideas-people with unique perspectives in life, art, science, etc. How can we, in some cases carefully disassemble, and in others outright break rules that have been established not for the greater good but out of fear and narrow minded thinking. I am constantly enamored with, and in awe of, the amazing things we can do together. Together, we can explore the application of absolutes in the built environment and how we can affect social change together-although I suspect the applications go much further than the built environment.

So let's start a conversation. I would love to get to connect with you. If you want to connect with me email me at SLFannon@me.com.

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