This past Sunday evening Emily Pilloton delivered the commencement address at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley, her alma mater. Here is a lightly edited version of her inspirational talk that can apply to everyone in the design field today, not just to new grads, as well as to anyone seeking to put meaning in what they do all day.–SSS
I feel fairly unqualified to be your graduation speaker: I was not a great student during my time here. I am not really a good “adult,” either, as I have no savings account or long-term health insurance. Also, I am not primarily interested in addressing you as architects and designers this evening, but first and foremost as citizens, and only then, as members of a professional community.
So with those disclaimers in mind, I want to share two stories with you. They are not stories of success so much as adventure. Take them as cautionary tales or advice or just stories of a girl who, like you, graduated from this institution and is still trying to find the best modes of operation in design and in life.
First story: Almost five years ago, I quit a corporate retail design job, selecting paint colors and doorknobs, moved in with my parents, and started a nonprofit design agency with no business plan and $1,000 in my bank account. Many people called this impulsive.
Project H Design Flickr Photo
Scott Timberg’s article “The Architecture Meltdown” (Salon, February 4, 2012) asks the question “Where does architecture go from here?” without offering an answer, so I will. The piece makes a compelling case f…