The Intersection of Practicality and Beauty

Practicality and Beauty


As a student, I often feel pulled in so many different directions. College can seem like a constant battle of balancing sleep, academics, practice, and time with friends. It can be overwhelming, and sometimes, I crave the space to breathe easy for a minute: free write, think, or just let my mind wander. Over time, I’ve found moments in my day that allow for this, some days are better than others, but finding this space has helped me to remember the importance of a creative outlet.

I think that many of us, if we were to look back on our written notes from classes or lectures, would find doodles in the margins, other thoughts lingering in the edges, or perhaps a note or two from a friend. The concept of that, to me, is beautiful: that the mind has the ability to wander in a creative way. One might scoff at that, thinking “In no way are my random doodles in the margins ‘beautiful’ or ‘creative’,” but I tend to disagree. Certainly, my stick-figures and conversation with a friend about lunch the next day in the corner of my math homework are not what I would generally claim to be “beautiful,” But it is a creation of something out of nothing – a blank space now filled with thoughts.

Yen Ha is an architect, writer, and artist based in New York City. The founding principal of Front Studio, Ha received her undergraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon University, and completed post-graduate work in urbanism at L’École d’Architecture in Paris, France. While she is a LEED professional and licensed architect whose work appears in acclaimed magazines and newspapers, her personal website features short stories and small hand drawings reminiscent of Shel Silverstein.

Yen Ha’s Website

Her work is defined by intricate character and detail, while still maintaining a level of simplicity. Ha uses her website as an outlet for creativity, and I appreciate the freedom with which she writes and draws. In her artist statement, she writes,

“I produce small works in small spaces using the interstitial moments found between packing lunch for the kids, job site meetings, and folding laundry. I have a deep love of the intersection of practicality and beauty. I like the idea of inhabiting a world where tiny, incremental steps made every day in drawing, making, or writing will add up to a tapestry of something else entirely.”

I believe that each of us has a unique capacity for creativity that we express in various ways. And I think it’s essential to allow ourselves space to create, to think, and to wonder. Even if this space is comprised of just a few minutes in the day, in between classes or meetings, or on the commute home, finding that “intersection of practicality and beauty” within daily life can become an important source of creative release, and who knows where that might lead.

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