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Top 101 Exceptionally Badass Quotes About Architecture and Design From Legends

 

St. Peter's Basilica St. Peter's Basilica

It's impossible to go through a single day without encountering architecture. The built environment is entwined with every facet of our lives – from our work to our homes to our hobbies and social lives.

dir="ltr">Architecture inspires people to think, so it's no wonder that so many famous writers, artists, politicians and designers have such profound and fascinating observations about architecture. Whether you embrace minimalism or adore flamboyance, everyone has experiences and tastes that shape the way they interact with the built world.

If you're involved in architecture or design, I hope these 101 quotes will delight, encourage, enrage and inspire.

1. The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

2. A design isn't finished until someone is using it.

- Brenda Laurel

3. Architecture is a dangerous mix of power and importance.

- Rern Koolhaas

4. Designers think everything done by someone else is awful, and that they could do it better themselves, which explains why I designed my own living room carpet, I suppose.

- Chris Bangle

5. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

- Aristotle

 

Bust of Aristotle Bust of Aristotle

6. The life of a designer is one of fight: fight against the ugliness.

- Massimo Vignelli

7. A great building must begin with the immeasurable, must go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasured.

- Louis Kahn

8. The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollinian condition: here it is the mighty act of will, the will which moves mountains, the intoxication of the strong will, which demands artistic expression. The most powerful men have always inspired the architects; the architect has always been influenced by power.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

9. Less is a bore.

- Robert Venturi

10. Our opportunity, as designers, is to learn how to handle the complexity, rather than shy away from it, and to realize that the big art of design is to make complicated things simple.

- Tim Parsey

 

Tim Parsey Tim Parsey

11. One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it is like life starting all over again.

- Renzo Piano

12. Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.

- Brian Reed

13. To provide meaningful architecture is not to parody history, but to articulate it.

- Daniel Libeskind

14. Practice safe design: Use a concept.

- Petrula Vrontikis

15. Nothing in this world is more simple and more cheap than making cities that provide better for people.

- Jan Gehl

 

Jan Gehl Jan Gehl

16. People ignore design that ignores people.

- Frank Chimero

17. In my experience, if you have to keep the lavatory door shut by extending your left leg, it’s modern architecture.

- Nancy Banks-Smith

18. I understand that, today, some developers are asking architects to design eye-catching, iconic buildings. Fortunately, I've not had that kind of client so far.

- Fumihiko Maki

19. The Sun does not realise how wonderful it is until after a room is made.

- Louis Kahn

20. Good design is all about making other designers feel like idiots because the idea wasn't theirs.

- Frank Chimero

 

Frank Chimero Frank Chimero

21. All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

22. Design should never say, "Look at me!" It should always say, "Look at this!"

- David Craib

23. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

- Henry David Thoreau

24. Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you anywhere.

- Albert Einstein

25. Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space.

- Mies van de Rohe

 

Mies Van Der Dohe Mies Van Der Dohe

26. Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.

- Joe Sparano

27. Good architecture is like a good therapy session, a good marriage, a good poem - gently and almost invisibly allowing you to be you, as flawed and as beautiful as you are.

- Robert Sullivan

28. In pure architecture the smallest detail should have a meaning or serve a purpose.

- Augustus W. N. Pugin

29. I am simply submerged in work from five in the morning to eleven at night; almost need a few days off to escape a breakdown!

- Richard Neutra

30. The most innovative designers consciously reject the standard option box and cultivate an appetite for thinking wrong.

- Marty Neumeier

 

Marty Neumeier Marty Neumeier

31. Architecture never derived its force from stability of culture, but rather from the expression of those moments when that sense of stability slipped.

- Mark Wigley

32. I've noticed the computer sometimes leads to rather bland decision-making; Now, anybody can do a wobbly, blobby building.

- Peter Cook

33. For me, design is like choosing what I'm going to wear for the day – only much more complicated and not really the same at all.

- Robynne Raye

34. I like ruins because what remains is not the total design, but the clarity of thought, the naked structure, the spirit of the thing.

- Tadao Ando

35. A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright.

36. Give them the vision of Oz, show them the direction, convince them you can create the yellow brick road; the rest is civil engineering.

- Dirk Susharme

37. Design is where science and art break even.

- Mieke Gerritzen

38. Hell, there are no rules here; We're trying to accomplish something.

- Thomas Edison

39. A profound design process eventually makes the patron, the architect, and every occasional visitor in the building a slightly better human being.

- Juhani Pallasmaa

40. Architecture is the art of how to waste space.

- Philip Johnson

 

Philip Johnson Philip Johnson

41. I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.

- Ayn Rand

42. A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense.

- Bruno Munari

43. People who build their own home tend to be very courageous. These people are curious about life. They're thinking about what it means to live in a house, rather than just buying a commodity and making it work.

- Tom Kundig

44. Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.

- Frank Gehry

45. Being a famous designer is like being a famous dentist.

- Noreen Morioka

 

Noreen Morioka Noreen Morioka

46. Light, God's eldest daughter, is a principal beauty in a building.

- Thomas Fuller

47. We live in a time of renaissance … cities are coming back to life, after a long neglect.

- Daniel Libeskind

48. Ah, to build, to build!
That is the noblest art of all the arts.
Painting and sculpture are but images,
Are merely shadows cast by outward things
On stone or canvas, having in themselves
No separate existence. Architecture,
Existing in itself, and not in seeming
A something it is not, surpasses them
As substance shadow.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

49. Architecture is a learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.

- Le Corbusier

50. Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect's task, therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise.

- Adolf Loos

quote-architecture-arouses-sentiments-in-man-the-architect-s-task-therefore-is-to-make-those-sentiments-adolf-loos-114543

51. The desire to reach for the sky runs very deep in the human psyche.

- César Pelli

52. I'm convinced that without bad design, the world would be a far less stimulating place; we would have nothing to marvel over and nothing to be nostalgic about.

- Carrie Phillips

53. Architecture is not based on concrete and steel, and the elements of the soil. It's based on wonder.

- Daniel Libeskind

54. An object should be judged by whether it has a form consistent with its use.

- Bruno Munari

55. Architecture is really about well-being. I think that people want to feel good in a space … On the one hand it's about shelter, but it's also about pleasure.

- Zaha Hadid

 

Zaha Hadid Zaha Hadid

56. Very often the opinion of the clients must be disregarded in their own interest.

- John M. Johnson

57. Designers are meant to be loved, not to be understood.

- Fabien Barral

58. The greatest architectural illusion is not Baroque fancy or Victorian flamboyant, but minimalism.

- Kevin McCloud

59. We shape our buildings: therefore they shape us.

- Winston Churchill

60. Architects spend an entire life with this unreasonable idea that you can fight against gravity.

- Renzo Piano

 

Renzo Piano Renzo Piano

61. When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I'm finished, if the solution is not beautiful I know it's wrong.

- Buckminster Fuller

62. I call architecture frozen music.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

63. Any work of architecture that does not express serenity is a mistake.

- Luis Barragán

64. All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.

- Gilbert K. Chesterton

65. Architect. One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money.

- Ambrose Bierce

 

Ambrose Bierce Ambrose Bierce

66. A camel is a horse designed by committee.

- Sir Alec Issigonis

67. People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It's not about giving shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need and beauty to produce something that the world didn't know it was missing.

- Paola Antonelli

68. Home is where you hang your architect.

- Chare Booth Luce

69. Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.

- Yoshio Taniguchi

70. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.

- Ernest Hemingway

 

Ernest Hemingway Ernest Hemingway

71. I find modernist design boring, but it's so much faster!

- Christine Suewon Lee

72. The fundamental failure of most graphic, product, architectural and even urban design is its insistence on serving the God of Looking-Good rather than the God of Being-Good.

- Richard Saul Wurman

73. You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe: when it knocked down our buildings it did not replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. We did that.

Charles, Prince of Wales

74. When we build, let us think that we build forever.

- John Ruskin

75. As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.

- Normon Foster

 

Norman Foster Normon Foster

76. I don't know why people hire architects and then tell them what to do.

- Frank Gehry

77. There is a danger when every building has to look spectacular; to look like it is changing the world. I don't care how a building looks if it means something, not to architects, but to the people who use it.

- David Chipperfield

78. Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends, and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.

- Oscar Niemeyer

79. The room is there for the human being – not the human being for the room.

- El Lissitzky

80. In the face of the economic plight, it is our task to become pioneers of simplicity, that is, to find a simple form for all of life’s necessities, which is at the same time respectable and genuine.

- Oskar Schlemmer

 

Oskar Schlemmer Oskar Schlemmer

81. It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.

- Walt Disney

82. The events of human life, whether public or private, are so intimately linked to architecture that most observers can reconstruct nations or individuals in all the truth of their habits from the remains of their monuments or from their domestic relics.

- Honore de Balzac

83. Architecture is inhabited sculpture.

- Constantin Brancusi

84. The architect's role is to make the mythic real.

- Sotirios Kotoulas

85. We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls.

- Bill Bryson

 

Bill Bryson Bill Bryson

86. Form ever follows function.

- Louis H. Sullivan

87. Architecture is the triumph of human imagination over materials, methods, and men, to put man into possession of his own Earth. It is at least the geometric pattern of things, of life, of the human and social world. It is at best that magic framework of reality that we sometimes touch upon when we use the word order.

- Frank Lloyd Wright

88. Great buildings that move the spirit have always been rare. In every case they are unique, poetic, products of the heart.

- Arthur Erickson

89. Architecture is like a mythical fantastic. It has to be experienced. It can't be described. We can draw it up and we can make models of it, but it can only be experienced as a complete whole.

- Maya Lin

90. The first gesture of an architect is to draw a perimeter; in other words, to separate the microclimate from the macro space outside. This in itself is a sacred act. Architecture in itself conveys this idea of limiting space. It’s a limit between the finite and the infinite. From this point of view, all architecture is sacred.

- Mario Botta

 

Mario Botta Mario Botta

91. Architecture is the plant fertilizer of our lives; it is the way to be a big, great-tasting tomato.

- Robert Sullivan

92. Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul.

- Ernest Dimnet

93. It is therefore indisputable that the limbs of architecture are derived from the limbs of man.

- Michelangelo

94. To work in architecture you are so much involved with society, with politics, with bureaucrats. It's a very complicated process to do large projects. You start to see the society, how it functions, how it works. Then you have a lot of criticism about how it works.

- Ai Weiwei

95. It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it's the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.

- David Allan Coe

 

David Allan Coe David Allan Coe

96. The modern architect is, generally speaking, art's greatest enemy.

- Pierre-Auguste Renoir

97. I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That's art to me.

- Maya Lin

98. All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.

- Philip Johnson

99. Architecture can't fully represent the chaos and turmoil that are part of the human personality, but you need to put some of that turmoil into the architecture, or it isn't real.

- Frank Stella

100. Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul.

- Ernest Dimnet

101. Among the planets of the arts, architecture is the dark side of the moon.

- Bruno Zevi

 

Bruno Zevi Bruno Zevi

Over to you – which one of the 101 quotes inspires you the most? What are your favourite quotes about architecture and design?

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