This past week I had the extreme honor of helping Drew produce three large scale pieces for the new Sevenly Offices in Costa Messa California. To say this was an intimidating task is an understatement. Drew, if you don’t know, is a brilliant designer, and I’m not just saying that because I married him, he is truly one of the most talented people I know (and I am lucky enough know an exceptionally large amount of talented people). His work constantly fills me with a sense of awe; how someone can concept and translate from mind to paper so smoothly blows me away.
When talking with a friend about this project he jokingly stated “Wow, you two are just a regular Ray and Charles Eames aren’t you!” Neither of us would go so far as to say we even hold a candle to these design greats, but it was such a humbling compliment, and it got us thinking… Can we work together?
Ray and Charles had such a beautiful mariage and working relationship. When talking about working with Ray, Charles simply stated, “Anything I can do, she can do better.” Which such an incredibly humble mindset.They balanced work and play, inspiration and passion, and became world renowned for brining beauty and functionality into the world. Separately and together they were known as brilliant minds, winning many awards and honorary degrees from universities and organizations nation wide.
Sadly, their brilliance couldn’t save them from their humanity. Towards the end, there was speculation of Charles being unfaithful to Ray. Maybe it was a flaw in his personality or maybe they got too heavily involved in work and stopped communicating their love… even so, the world would be at a great loss if they had not found harmony in their working methods.
What I would like to know is how do great couples stay great without the pressure and tension of projects and ideas driving wedges between them. Is it simply allowing for the other person to be their own entity, their ideas considered with full mind instead of automatically running them down with your own?
Digging deeper I discovered that a lot of it comes down to the people in question deciding (whether consciously or subconsciously) that they have the same goal in mind and that they will accomplish that goal no matter what. Which often means getting out of their own way, realizing they are a piece in the bigger picture and putting in the work to make it happen.
Learning how to read situations and how you respond to them is also imperative. Being able to be constructive instead of critical will do far more for moving things forward and keeping a positive energy in your work. Often times negativity creeps in, stemming from fear and insecurity. I truly believe fear is one of the most powerful forces in the universe and we often fight what we fear. You fear failure? You will then scrutinize everything that you do, forcing and pushing things into unrealistic constraints. You fear that your work isn’t original enough and that people only see flaws you imagine to be there? You will be miserably judging the work of not only yourself but everyone around you, leaving you feeling empty and exhausted. Don’t believe me? Check Twitter.
When working closely with another person or a group of people, character flaws such as these tend to become even more evident. We directly aim critique to our partners making it harder to have a harmonious working environment and do the work we ought to be doing.
I will not pretend that I am a business genius, I don’t have a degree in psychology (though I do love it), and I don’t believe for a moment that I have things all figured out. I do believe in the idea that living life is the best schooling you will ever receive. I believe that the people you surround yourself with and the ideas they help you cultivate, will shape you into the person that you want to be.
Drew and I are big on communication. We still have a lot to learn, but our basic philosophy is this- talking too much is better than not talking at all. Keeping this mindset during the hours spent sketching, filling, erasing, and redoing these pieces allowed us to work more fluidly together (granted I was just an accessory, cleaning and detailing, he did all of the hard work of designing and laying the boards out).
In the end this project proved to be a great tool for us. By spending time with each other in a “work” setting we were able to learn more about our relationship and the kind of life we want and how being creative together will be a key factor moving forward. These pieces were a bit of a challenge, but we would take that challenge on again in a heart beat.