The Art of Architectural Design

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Painting by Maria Lorena Lehman: © All rights reserved.
Painting by Maria Lorena Lehman: © All rights reserved.

“When paint strokes delineate architectural detail, a new design fluidity emerges.” — Maria Lorena Lehman 

What if the creative action of drawing and painting could help one see into architectural design more deeply? This type of artistic challenge goes beyond striving to represent an architecture in a hyperreal style. Instead, this way of seeing architecture involves different levels of artistic exploration through one’s eyes, mind, body, and painting hand. In this way, one can explore what architecture is, what it can become, and what it once was through new perspectives that awaken one to the multidimensional nuances of environments.



As you can see in the watercolor piece above, when paint strokes delineate architectural detail, a new design fluidity emerges. Is it possible for a paint brush to see architecture differently from a pen or a computer? Through my explorations, I say: Yes. As I venture forward to create new ways for architectural design to help evolve humanity for near and far futures, I look through an artistic lens to deepen my understanding of what architecture can do to benefit the world in ways it has not done before.


Through painting, I ask: How can architecture be more like nature? Or how can architecture create new experiences that help people actualize their fullest potential? Ultimately, the action of painting helps me to see environmental possibility more deeply, while the completed painting helps those that perceive it to experience this possibility now. If a painting can evoke architectural experience, then the action of painting can unlock new ways of designing for that experience. Within my studio, I look forward to exploring and experimenting with these ideas as MLL Design Lab enters its next evolution.

About the author

Maria Lorena Lehman

Maria Lorena Lehman is a visionary artist, designer, and author focusing on links between environmental design, science, emerging technologies, and human potential. Lehman is founder of MLL Atelier, an art-based architectural design research practice. Maria Lorena Lehman is author of the award-winning book entitled, Adaptive Sensory Environments. She is recipient of the Harvard University Digital Design Prize for the "most creative use of digital media in relation to the design professions". Lehman also creates sculptures and paintings described as "visual poetry of motion that is a new inspiration" by Daniel Smith, the company that creates watercolors for artists worldwide. Maria Lorena Lehman holds the degrees of Master in Design with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Architecture, Cum Laude, from Virginia Tech. She is internationally published and in numerous periodicals, including The Architect's Journal, Esquisses Magazine, Architect Magazine and Forbes.