Interview with Shannon Taylor Scarlett

Describe your desk
Honestly, as I survey my workspace, I must say its covered with a jumble of unlikely bedfellows. I have rolls of tracing paper and felt tip pens next to my laptop. Freehand sketches of my current projects and existing measurements, are interwoven with articles on marketing and infographics, and a stack of proof copies of my book Simple Rules sits next to the printer. Printed images of ancient composition diagrams, site photos, and a zoning application are all pushed to the top of my desk to create a space for my drafting tools and vellum (yes, I still hand draft all my final plans).
Inevitably, I have ten projects going concurrently, some architectural, some writing, some marketing related. And I am always learning new things, sometimes its a cool new feature of technology, other times its research into ancient ways of designing beautiful buildings.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Oregon. I thought the whole world was as lush and green as my hometown, Eugene, until one day my parents decided a road trip to Kansas to see relatives would be fun. We got as far as eastern Oregon, and I suddenly realized my worldview was warped. Watching sagebrush tumbling across the endlessly dry landscape made me appreciate what I had at home all the more.

Before kids, my father was a science teacher during the school year, and a forest fire lookout all summer. After kids, he was an avid camper during the summer months and all four of us tagged along. I loved the woods, and everything about nature, and how it was so randomly beautiful. I wanted to capture that natural beauty in the built world, recreate it through architecture. But its not that easy. Nature holds its design cards close to the vest, and trying to understand how she achieves the simple beauty we see all around us became my obsession.

I started to research what the ancient designers had figured out that made the beauty of their work so timeless. And though I never planned to become a writer, I really wanted to share the wisdom I began to uncover.
Published 2013-09-20.
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Books by This Author

Simple Rules, What the Oldtime Builders Knew
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 7,000. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Art, Architecture, Photography » Architecture, Nonfiction » Home and Garden » Home design
Simple Rules is a new kind of builder handbook / design guide. Inspired by long forgotten sources, the design content included here--timeless composition principles, elegant proportional systems, building techniques and formulas for making buildings more beautiful--is intended as a guide for the modern builder who cares about aesthetics and meaning as much or more than the bottom line.