Friday, April 11, 2014


By Isaac Grayson

Failure and Misery. Both bring about growth and misery. All the best stories come from misery. All my best and most told stories contain something miserable. Mostly it involving being in the rain and being cold. The topic of failure came up during a recent history design Charrette. We were given the coordinates for two locations and told to design a women’s clinic at one and a temple at the other. This was for a non-western history class and so we needed to take into account the local climate and social structure of each. We had a week to tackle this project. So there was some collaboration on the research but it can be hard to learn all there is to know about a different culture just from internet sources.
After a week of working on this Charrette and realizing how little I really knew about the functions of these facilities in their perspective locations, I was just feeling hopeful that what I had drawn was close to being correct. When it was time to pin-up or designs for review we were told that this was going to be a pass fail review. Reviews are rough but a surprise pass fail review sets everyone on edge very quickly. And on top of this we are not allowed to speak during the review, the poster must speak for itself.
Our professor made the comment, when we was explain the process we were going to be using to review the projects, that you learn the most from failure. Saying this reminded me of a quote I have pasted on my desktop by Samuel Beckett. It goes “Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter, Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
I found this to be a very helpful quote because as architecture students we are encouraged to stretch ourselves. Trial and error lend itself to more error than success. There are lots of quotes about the invention of the light bulb and I won’t go into them here but this is a classic example of how failure, and large amounts of it can lead to something good.  Sometimes it is hard to remember that failure is not all bad or unproductive.  So continue to fail and know that failure will happen again. But strive to fail better.
“Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter, Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

-Samuel Beckett
Charette by Author

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