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Design Inspiration: Kwayera Franklin

October 29, 2014


This post is part of a series exploring the places, people, and things our team draws inspiration from. Today’s design inspiration post comes from intern architect Kwayera Franklin.

For me, design is adaptive and interpretive. Architectural design is an art that sparks innovation in the mind of designer and user. Of all the great edifices and monumental engineering feats that man has managed to design and construct, I am always inspired by the simplest of innovations known to man – the wheel. It sounds terribly boring, but go with me for a minute.

Simple in form; harmoniously balanced in its beauty and invaluable in function, the wheel has positioned itself as one of those things that, without it, nothing in pre or post-industrial society would be possible. From the tires on our automobiles to the scroll button on a mouse (or the Krispy Kreme donut!), one cannot deny the role the wheel plays in our lives. Sadly enough, it has not been celebrated as the great wonder it is.



The wheel, in my opinion, is by far the most intuitive of the simple machines known to man. Since its discovery it has never ceased to aide and inspire us in our pursuits to create, build and transport. I often wonder how the wheel was discovered — what were the first reactions to the wheel’s use? And, as you history buffs know, societies were able to travel farther, build faster, and fight wars more effectively over those who had not developed their use of the wheel.


Industrial Prowess

In the early 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution spread throughout the world, the wheel became instrumental in the development of machines for mass production. The wheel-shaped gear was, and still is, a central component to the ever-changing manufacturing industry. From the pocket-watch to the automobile, almost every machine or device invented relies upon gears as an integral component of movement and function. Let’s also not forget the wheel’s many recreational uses; I have countless memories riding the Ferris Wheel and other death defying attractions at theme parks. And don’t forget the monocycle (full disclosure: I had never heard of it until I started working on this article, but it’s pretty darn cool!) and other contraptions that never made it to the production assembly lines. Undoubtedly, none of this would be possible without the wheel; and, of course, the blood, sweat, and tears of those who put all the nuts and bolts together.


The “Roll” of the Wheel in Design

So what does all this have to do with architecture and design? Simply put, EVERYTHING! Because of innovations spawned by the wheel and other simple machines, we are able to design and create tools and spaces for us to live and work in so we can design and create more tools and spaces. Don’t worry – I promise I won’t take this on a space-design continuum tangent.

Simplicity lends itself to innovation. We intuitively take primitive, basic elements and add to them to create more improved means and methods for us to accomplish our goals. The designers of tomorrow can look to simple tools like the wheel for inspiration, guidance, and methodology so that we can continue to grow and develop.