in Discipline of IA

A Famous Information Architect

Frank Lloyd Wright spent three months ‘doing nothing’ (I would imagine he was thinking) before sketching for three hours to produce the drawings for Falling Water. He could imagine the entire structure, and subsequently furnish the details. With each work he was allowed to experiment and push the boundaries. And clients came to him for his work, though of course he, as most famous architects do, relied on a staff of ‘apprentices’.

Could an information architect – or an experience strategist or systems architect for that matter – become famous in the same way? Having three months to consider the user experience and design, defining the state-of-the-art with each project, being sought out for her ideas with a staff to assist with the work?

We have gurus, but they often exist as our best critics and consultants, not designers. And we have fine design groups, but these don’t inspire the imagination like a single brilliant personality. This case study of Nathan Shedroff’s work teases me with the idea. Some foster the vision, but we’re certainly not there yet.

I don’t expect one person to imagine and build everything; even the best architects rely on (brilliant but anonymous) engineers for collaboration. But one person could conceivably imagine the entire experience and design, from an enterprise information architecture down to the detailed interaction design. It might be on the scale of, say, designing from scratch.

Does anyone even want this? Regardless, aspiring to this – as designers, as educators, as patrons – might change our work in countless ways.

Later…draftsmen! They had draftsmen! Jeez. Imagine having someone to make the beautiful drawings for you.