Surface Summer School

Thom Mayne’s Design Philosophy: Break the Rules

The Pritzker Prize–winning architect and founder of the firm Morphosis encouraged UPenn students to think differently as they design a mobile testing unit for COVID-19.

As part of our Surface Summer School lecture series, Thom Mayne spoke to the students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

Takeaways: “I think I’d make an ice cream shop; when you get an ice cream, you get a swab,” Mayne joked to students, imagining his submission in their competition to design a mobile coronavirus testing unit. He encouraged them to think of the brief as a cultural project and to approach it on social terms in order to expand their creativity. He shared some wisdom that has guided his own illustrious career, which has been defined by an experimental style. “I’ve never won a competition that I didn’t break a rule,” he said. “Stay relaxed. This project is a serious subject, but you should really have fun with it.”

See the full schedule for the lecture series.

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