unrefinery
August 28, 2014  ·  culture  ·  design  ·  style

In Praise Of Limitations

We might all think we'd like to have an unlimited wardrobe budget, or thousands of square feet of living space, but consider for a moment the creative solutions inspired by limitations vs. the "writer's block" that often comes with a completely clean sheet of paper. Some of our favourite recent works of art and architecture are responses to limitations, whether chosen or externally imposed:

Specht Harpman Architects recently renovated a tiny 425-square-foot loft (in, of course, New York) that through hidden storage, a cantilevered bedroom and many wise design decisions somehow becomes an airy, modern, inviting space.

The instrumentation of the British hard rock duo Royal Blood is limited to drums and bass—all harmonic content coming from a human voice and a (mostly) monophonic instrument. The challenge of producing a wall of glorious noise from what most would consider half of a band is achieved through clever signal processing and arrangements that utilize the gamut of the available frequencies and the full multitasking abilities of the players.

The over-the-top McKinley Spaces renovation of a 19th Century London house clearly knew no financial boundaries, but you have to appreciate the stubbornness behind retaining the tiny garage and adapting it to accommodate two highly impractical sports cars.

Sometimes limitations are self-imposed, sometimes they are necessitated by budget or some other intrusion of reality. Either way, try to make it your first instinct to embrace rather than circumvent them. You might be surprised by the creativity it brings out in you.

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