The Studio’s Second Podcast: Tips for Having a Great Design Review and Review



The Studio’s Second Podcast: Tips for Having a Great Design Review and Review

The Second Studio (formerly The Midnight Charette) is an explicit podcast on design, architecture and everyday life. Hosted by architects David Lee and Marina Bourderonnet, it presents different creative professionals in unscripted conversations that allow for thoughtful shots and personal discussions.

A variety of topics are approached with honesty and humor: some episodes are interviews, while others are advice for fellow designers, reviews of buildings and other projects, or occasional explorations of everyday life and the world. design. The second studio is also available on itunes, Spotify, and Youtube.

This episode is also available on itunes, YouTube and Spotify. This week David and Marina discuss the best strategies for getting the most out of a design review. Both cover when not to listen to reviews, the two essential parts of any review, why design reviews are often a complete mess, mourning reviews, controlling a review, bad reviews, how to structure a productive review, and much more. . Enjoy!


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Highlights and timestamps


Why are reviews important? How much pressure should students put on the design reviews and feedback they receive? (00:00)

Being a designer is finding a strange balance between listening to everyone and not listening to anyone. Students tend to want to go one way or the other. Why? Because it’s easy. It’s really hard to listen to everyone, but also to listen to nobody at the same time. It is difficult, but it is the threshold and the fence on which to balance. You should absorb what the critics say, but don’t let it define you, don’t let it destroy, and also, don’t let it make you think of your god’s gift to the world. (06:57)

The importance of posting your work and taking the exam. (09:35)

Why Students Should Understand Criticism from the Perspective of Critics and Educators. (12:03)

Are reviews meant to be easy? Take comments. (13:44)

If I get pinned on an exam, I want to know what’s wrong. It is the same if you hire a tutor or a coach. I don’t go to a tutor expecting them to congratulate me. I don’t want a “yes”. I want to know what is wrong and how I can improve myself. […] If you come across reviews that only say good things, you should be angry because they are wasting your time. They are wasting your money or your parents’ money. This is not what the critics are here to do. (15:14)

There is a difference between speaking frankly and attacking someone. Usually for most people the differences are pretty obvious and it’s not good when we allow ourselves to blur those lines either as the abuser or as a student or educator. Talking honestly and succinctly is not the same as being mean. (17:20)

“Standardize the rules of the game” for the journal: turn the journal into a conversation. (18:10)

Often once the students have made a presentation, they are just the recipients of the reviews and it’s not really a back-and-forth. But you (the students) are free to ask questions and respond to what critics say about your project. You’re not just there to take punches, you can also punch or punch if you have to. Often times, this is an opportunity that is missed… perhaps because the students are too emotional to receive criticism and fall silent when they have finished presenting. You (the students) must respond to criticism. You have to ask them questions. You must disagree if you strongly disagree with them. (18:10)

Your presentation time is so limited and so short, but at the same time you have all of these critiques, i.e. resources, available to you right now. You need to squeeze as much juice as possible from this exchange. You cannot be passive and attached. You really have to engage with them. (20:25)

Why design and architecture reviews can be incredibly unfair, and how students can fix the situation. (22:10)

You have to imagine that the teacher invited, say, six different people (critics). Teachers try to recruit the best people, but often there are scheduling conflicts and they just get who they have. Not always, but 50% of the time they do, or they are expected to invite a certain person because of the school they are in, or whatever. So you have, more or less, a random capture of six people and you expect all of those people to be great and give good feedback? Understand design, understand what it means to educate, understand what it means to be critical, understand what it means to be a student? It will not arrive. As a student, it is important to realize that these are the variables you are dealing with. (22:40)

Put the reviews (and their comments) on a pedestal and try to please everyone. (25:45)

What does it mean to be a designer? It means always being surrounded by a bunch of questions, and then when you feel like you’re about to get the answer, you force yourself to ask more questions. So you are still in a state of loss to some extent. For students, when they start it is uncomfortable; it is very uncomfortable to be like that and the students are always looking for something to hang onto to give them confidence. “This reviewer is a professional,” he said. Let me stop on that, because at least I know that if I do that, then one: it’s more likely to be just because this “ professional ” told me and two: I don’t have to take responsibility. (27:12)

When students modify their project by responding to all comments from critics:

You are wrong. This is not about pleasing or satisfying the critics or your teacher. It’s about you; your growth, your process and your learning. It’s not about satisfying anyone in the end. (29:40)

Translate reviewer’s comments into meaningful and useful information for the project and the student and why teachers should always have to do post-assessment analysis. (32:20)

Students often think that after presenting and reviewing, that’s it. The job is done. But no, it’s not really done. You took that extra step after you finished the presentation: take those notes and think about what happened to really use that information for the next review. It might sound like, “Oh wow, these people are crazy, nobody does that after the reviews.” Everyone should be doing this because this is really what will help you. (34:25)

Deal with “negative” comments and cry during reviews. (39:26)

You (student) will do your best, but it won’t be perfect. You’re going to have criticism, because that’s what this is about a review. It’s not a graduation ceremony where you have a dress, candy, and money, and everyone’s comforting you. It’s not graduation yet. It’s an exam. This is a criticism. I have the impression that a lot of students expect this to be a mini-graduation. (41:22)

How to tell if the comments are constructive or correct: Understand both parts of any comment and whether or not the reviews know the design. (43h00)

Should the assessment feedback be more student or building oriented? (52:25)

We tend to focus too much on the artefact itself, the building itself. But the building actually doesn’t need any help. The building is indifferent to what each of us thinks. Help the creator figure out how to improve something. (55:17)

There is a difference between talking about the building for the good of the building and talking about the building as a way of communicating a lesson, an idea to the student. (56:35)

When the reviewers have discussions that are beneficial and interesting to the reviewers, but understandable or useful to the students. (58:55)

Why are we here? We are here to help the students. Many critics forget this. They are more interested in showing off or making themselves beautiful. Or they are more interested in an interesting dialogue between other teachers and critics. (59h00)

Why using building references is a bad way to give feedback. Different types of reviews to know. Comments do not provide design answers, but design direction. (01:01:20)

Where is your north arrow? You should look at this in the section. Two common criticisms. (01:10:10)

Students tend to think of design and the representation of design or distinct things that, yes they are, but in the context of an unbuilt project they are not because the presentation of the design is so. only representation ever. Other than what you pin, it only exists in your mind – it doesn’t matter. […] The representation is the drawing. So when you get critics quibbling about line weights and stuff, and you think, “Whatever.” Not at all. If you wanted to have an opening there and you didn’t draw an opening, there is no opening. (01:12:35)

The politics and social dynamics between critics and why this shapes the feedback given. Critics pushing their own agenda. (01:15:55)

Critics who are overly enthusiastic about reviews and how to control them as a student. (01:19:45)

Some tips for giving feedback: Listen and try to understand how the student sees his project. (01:24:10)

If I understand what the student thinks of his project, I can give him a very good feedback. if I don’t understand how they think about their project then that’s a problem. It’s the same as working with a client. If I can understand a client’s thinking and how he perceives things; it is gold. (01:29:42)

Why some students receive unworthy praise. (01:33:19)

Tips for structuring and hosting a journal. (01:34:15)

The worst thing a teacher can do during the exam. Should teachers provide feedback or advocate for students in mid and final assessments? (01:38:45)

Critics and teachers think their job is to talk. We believe that teaching and helping someone as a critic means spitting out information. Of course, this is partially true, you have to say something, but maybe it is half in fact. […] The real trick is to get the student to engage. (01:43:51)

Why it pays to have one or two bad reviews on a review. (01:45:25)

Why students should learn to manage a review. (01:47:28)





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