words Edwin Heathcote, Sam Jacob, Ian Martin, Justin McGuirk and William Wiles.
Activist n out-of-work architect with a conscience. Also known as slum tourist.
Affordance n 1. property offered by a situation and taken advantage of by a product; 2. spending power.
Aga Khan n self-styled authority on rural kitchen fit-outs.
Arad n a man in an incomplete hat.
Architect vb to architect something; “Help me architect my home-stereo system!”
Architectonic n drink, very good with liminal. See also liminal.
Authenticity n an essential quality, strived for by architects suffering from authenticity anxiety (AA). For example, not the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai or the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas
Award-winning adj usage: not a synonym for “good”.
Barcelonification vb the overlaying of Ildefons Cerdà’s grid onto a diagram of post-war planning; theory that pavement cafes will reverse trends of industrial decline and long-term unemployment. See also roger.
Biennale hopper n one who spends the two-year cycle gliding effortlessly from Venice to São Paulo to Milan and back to Venice to Lisbon to Shenzhen to Istanbul to Gdansk to Folkestone.
Biomimicry n making buildings that look like fly wings. Believed to have been founded by Marcel Marceau.
BLOB acronym: Blind Love of the Banal.
Boa contractor n ruthless developer’s agent charged with squeezing costs.
Brand n 1. the ultimate position a designer can aspire to: “That Philippe Starck isn’t just a designer, he’s a brand!”; 2. what cities now have in place of culture and industry: “Birmingham has a really strong brand.”
Bricolage n (“Brick-o-large”) 1950s machine for making slightly larger bricks which really know what they want to be, man; cf Louis Kahn.
Brownfield n/adj place that has been shat on by economic history. Not like a field at all.
Calatrava n technical term for a whale ribcage bleached by the sun.
Capitalism n bankable form of classical architecture.
Carbon fibre n amazing new material used in £1,000 suitcases, cf Ross Lovegrove.
Ceciliac n a follower of Cecil Balmond’s mystical numerology, or a member of Arup’s Advanced Geometry Unit.
Chipperfield n one of a number of undeveloped sites in England.
Cladiator n manly designer with a fetish for architectural cladding; 2. arena stylist who believes a building’s exterior should also be a brutal spectacle.
Conceptual adj as in “conceptual design”. Design that thinks it’s clever, often Dutch. Chairs with two legs that don’t stand up etc.
Conspicuous consumption n term for walking down Bond Street with six shopping bags in each hand with the fanciest brands facing outwards.
Consultation n process of asking the locals what they think about turning their gardens into a bus lane. Always ignore.
Consumerism n life in a Western country.
Content n stuff you need to fill a space. It’s meaning has been inverted by the internet, an infinite amount of space in need of “content” created by content “generators”; there was never a book that needed content.
Contextual adj 1. similar to but bigger than surroundings; 2. a building designed as a symbolic historical gesture instead of using the city’s vernacular or traditional style, eg something shaped like a sail for a port city, or like a giant jug for a pottery town.
Convergence n trend for products that do two things instead of one, eg a coffee table that’s also a vase, a chair that’s a magazine rack, the oven toilet (eat shit and die).
Cradle to cradle 1. adj 1980s design by babies for other babies; 2. n Hollywood movie starring Rebecca de Mornay.
Creative class n a large group of people similar to cleaners who move into depressed urban districts to sanitise them and render them fit for human – eg stockbroker, banker and lawyer – habitation. See also creative economy and Florida, Richard.
Creative commons n working-class designers formerly known as draughtsmen.
Creative economy n a government definition for people in casual clothing.
Creative reuse n normally just means creative use, eg the Campana brothers buying things that haven’t been used, such as stuffed animals, and turning them into armchairs.
Designosaur n Architect who uses a drawing board instead of a computer.
Droog n (pronounced Drowkhhh, from the Dutch) unemployed ultraviolent youth in Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange.
Dubai adj 1. Biblical term for house built on sand or other shaky foundations; 2. Dubai? A Gulf realtor’s question.
Easyjetset n designers who live in the same city but only ever meet on bucket flights to Milan or Venice. Also known as Easyjetter and Easylover (cf Phil Collins).
Emergent adj used to mean digital designer, now used as a misspelling of emerging.
Emission statement n outpouring of carbon dioxide on subject of same.
End user n homophobic taunt directed at community architect by members of a residents’ association.
Ergognomic adj tailored to fit a smaller than average individual.
Ergonomic adj 1. tailored to fit an average individual; 2. describing something with little indentations where the fingers go.
Exclusive adj its most interesting characteristic is that it is not owned or enjoyed by other people.
Feckler n a feckless heckler of the sort that leaves one-word comments on Dezeen. Also known as Monosillybilly. Florida, Richard n invented the “creative class”, that magical ingredient every city and country wants to foster. He’s got a lot to answer for.
Fretton v to worry. “I’m worried I’m not going to win the Stirling again this year. Really fretton about it.”
Gehry n German for giddy or capricious. Really!
Gigabyte n enough hard disk space to store a bootleg video of a concert.
Greenwash n mouthwash used by developers after a carbon-rich pig out.
Greywater n proposed shopping centre in Essex.
Heat pump n hip hop slang for male sexual organ.
Heterotopia n strip pub on the Hackney Road.
Holistic adj spiky, green product, in time for Christmas, derived from holly.
Icon n a building designed to look good as a souvenir keyring sold in the building’s giftshop.
Iconic adj eye-catching/ugly; new superlative term for buildings, products, pop stars, sport stars, speeches, savoury spreads, department stores, cars, German coffee makers and electric shavers etc.
Ikea 1. n Swedish flatpack furniture and meatball company that famously brought design to the trogs; 2. vb to “chuck out your chintz” (obsolete since 2006); 3. vb to buy chintz from a Scandinavian furniture giant formerly known for minimalism.
Impotentiality n likely to be a flop.
Industrial aesthetic n brushed metal, steel or concrete in design. Anything that cannot be convincingly sold as “organic”.
Innovative adj design speak for new but not necessarily innovative.
Intelligent design n by unintelligent people.
Interaction design n black magic (doctors advise against participation).
Landmark n cheap icon.
Life-cycle n the entire life of a product from manufacture in China to burial in a landfill in China (average time three weeks).
Liminal n a little bit of lemon and a little bit of lime. See also architectonic.
Limited edition adj chair, often marble, unlikely to sell more than five. Nearly all editions are limited. There’s no such thing as an infinite edition. See also exclusive.
Marble n the material of antiquity, the Renaissance and 2007. See also carbon fibre; cf Marc Newson and Established & Sons.
Mass-produced adj often misused by design journalists to mean produced.
Mauist n believer in Massive Change, member of cult following teachings of Chairman Mau.
Morphology n no established definition. Answers on a postcard please.
Muji n shop for wannabe minimalists that sells products in white plastic or brown paper. Comes from the acronym MUJI (made under Japanese influence).
Node n use instead of hub to sound clever.
Obristle vb to overcurate. “Do you think we’re in danger of obristling this?” (Derived from Hans Ulrich Obrist.)
OMAfia n collective term for the sprawling web of influence that extends from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.
Open source n internet version of design by committee, which is a global community of users. Famously used to create the Linux operating system and … did we mention Linux?
Ornamentalism n like, totally, wibbly-wobbly.
Parametrix n character in Asterix who talked gibberish and was terrified of right angles.
Participation n one-word synonym for design by committee.
Pavilion n small fungal structure that appears in climates otherwise unable to support architecture.
Pavilionitis n an avant-garde summer rash. The only way anything interesting can get built in Britain; cf Serpentine Gallery.
Prefab adj not fabulous yet.
Planar adj less interesting.
Pomo Sapiens n an authority on postmodernism.
Pop-up n temporary; not very good but at least it doesn’t last long.
Pornamentation n graphic use of ornament.
Poundshop chic n the fetishisation of good, cheap mass-produced plastic industrial design. See icon’s Under a Fiver and Jasper Morrison’s Super Normal.
Practice vb just say work.
Praxis n cheap Greek brandy substitute.
Pro-Am n 1. short for professional-amateur; 2. moonlighter who makes a few extra quid web designing or selling hand-carved dildos on ebay.
Programme n replaced “function” after S,M,L,XL was published because it sounded cooler and more computer-y, and had fewer modernist overtones. Function is ideological and programme is commercial. Contractors still get confused between programme and schedule.
Rashid, Karim 1. n man in a white or pink suit; 2. adj designs of day-glo globular plastic variety, eg “it’s a bit Karim Rashid”. Aka DJ Kreemy.
Readymade n 1. a design copied from Achille Castiglione via Duchamp and Picasso. See also creative reuse; 2. sign on a hotel door after turn-over service.
Regeneration n fancy term for new building.
Remnant n a sub-AMO bar chart used to add a note of Koolhaasian integrity to a commercial project.
Rhizome n a root; Gilles Deleuze’s favourite crisp flavour.
Roger vb to barcelonificate in line with the recommendations of the Urban Task Force. “Have you been to Barking lately? It’s been thoroughly rogered.”
Schumacher n a meaningless sentence (derived from Patrik Schumacher’s infamous manifesto in Venice).
Selflove, Gross n wizard-like designer of organic-shaped products. A genius. The new Leonardo da Vinci.
Service design n the idea that design can improve anything in the world. Design for the service economy. See also Mauist.
Shitbox n a blog that puts up press releases and pictures uncritically (any shit that ends up in an editor’s inbox).
Showcase vb unbearably irritating way of saying “put on show”.
Simulacrum n copy (Jean Baudrillard to teacher: “I’m not copying, sir, it’s a simulacrum.”)
Sky garden n stick some trees here and there on your skyscraper and it will look green even if it’s worse for the planet than diesel made of old tires and dead pandas.
Super Normal adj term coined by Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa referring to products from a poundshop. See also poundshop chic.
Sustainability n 1. the bare mininum to aim for, not very ambitious. “How’s your marriage?” “Oh, it’s sustainable.” Derived from a negative situation, eg one that is unsustainable. It’s like aiming for unpoisoned rivers; 2. the ability of an electric guitar to sustain a single note with feedback (cf Spinal Tap).
Tensile adj used to describe uptight architect.
Terabyte n enough hard-disc space to store the entire planet.
Twitticism n any architecture or design criticism in 140 characters or less.
Vapid prototype n pointlessly complex model made just because a designer has a new machine which can.
Zer O’Carbon n Irish farmer who pioneered the technique of building houses out of hay bales.