modus principle #7 | good design.

Apr 03, 2021

guiding principle #7:

good design

thoughtful work for everyone.

Our guiding principles work in harmony through tangible design, evoking an emotional response. This is good design that we can share with the world.


Good design is multivalent. Ambitious as a radical re-ordering of our physical reality with something--an artifact/space/building--that seeks to move us by engaging our imagination, reason, and emotion. Humble in its recognition that to be merely good is a universal, yet elusive, aesthetic and ethical imperative reliant upon the cohesive and cogent efforts of many in the transformation of the immaterial idea to the material thing.

Our guiding principles

. studio

. rooted

. collective

. balance

. process

. craft

work to prepare the ground for the realization of

. good ideas

. good building

. good architecture

. good design

Good architecture is dependent on the acuity with which we can discern the patterns of a place and critically respond. It seeks to improve its context and to be rooted to that place in a way that extends beyond its natural phenomena and geographic characteristics to become part of a culture, a community and a collective. In this way, people act as the connective tissue anchoring the work to a certain ground.

For our design process, this ground is the studio. The studio is an open, transparent environment meant for the free expression and sharing of ideas. The exchanging of a multiplicity of diverse ideas through critical, constructive feedback drives the development of good ideas and good design. This transparency and openness entails a requisite vulnerability and risk, inherent to any creative work and act of the imagination, which must be assuaged by establishing a balanced respect for the process and for the individuals engaged therein. We all struggle to find balance within the competing interests and passions of life. The struggle for balance makes us better people and better designers more attuned to the sensitivities and needs of other people’s lives by actually living one ourselves. Passion fuels creativity and promoting the passions for things outside of architecture increases our creative energy and hones our critical capacity.

Passion in making, or craft, is a critical component of our practice. The passion and care we have for the things we make impress upon them such that craft becomes integral to the successful translation of the idea to the made thing. Thinking and making are inseparable. Similarly, craft and economy are bound up within good design, likening the aesthetic and the ethical. The crafting of a thing requires an understanding of its limitations and constraints, both physical and perceptual, in the pursuit of an economy of expression through material resourcefulness and skillful composition of its material substance.

We view good design through many lenses in the pursuit of meaningful architecture that navigates the threshold between the natural and man-made. The things we make are always relational and reciprocal--connecting us to nature and nature to us, each of us to one another and to ourselves--in a way that we are re-framed and re-made by the things we make. Our built environment is a necessary vessel for physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being and good design, good architecture, good building should always seek our betterment.

Aaron Speaks, AIA

associate architect | modus studio