“When I present to my clients, I show them a series of individual sketches. Maybe I do 10 before I reach the final concept, and I love to show the evolution. I can talk clients through it to see, to make them feel they are a part of the thought process behind the design. The sketches themselves are more like doodles or bubble diagrams, which allow my brain to function. I use a lot of arrows to indicate how people move, how sunlight penetrates.
Whether I’m dressed in a business suit or jeans, I always have a pen on me. I also have a Moleskin pad and, I’m sorry to say this, a Samsung Note 5 and an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. Anything I can get my hands on. Inspirations come from all sides when you’re a designer. You have to jot them down immediately along with key words that will form a story.
A Taiwanese client approached my firm, JC Architecture, with the idea of sharing happiness via a completely self-service cafe with an honor system for payment. We thought, What if we could make a space out of paper, so you can be a child, happy to draw on everything? Why don’t we even create furniture out of paper? And that became the basis for the Happier Cafe in Taipei. One of my sketches for the project shows a triangle above stick figures—a quick expression of a paper tent sheltering a romantic couple.”—Johnny Chiu