Hi Team,

I recently participated in an online masterclass with Frank Gehry, the 91 year old Canadian-American architect.
Frank Gehry is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest living architects and is responsible for designing iconic buildings such as,

  • The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain.
  • The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles.
  • The Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum, Paris.
  • The UTS School of Business, Sydney.

If you are not familiar with these buildings, please stop reading this email and look them up online, before you continue reading any further. This email will have significantly more meaning once you are familiar with Gehry's incredibly sculptural buildings that evoke emotions and wonder every time you look at them. (Four years ago I had the privilege of visiting one of Gehry's most controversial buildings, The Dancing House in Prague Czech Republic and it changed my perception of good architecture).

The masterclass was titled "The Challenges of a Creative Pursuit" and Gehry spoke about his experiences from over 60 years of being an architect that continually challenged convention and pushed the boundaries of engineering and buildability on every building he designed. As builders of architectural houses everyone at DDB is involved in a creative pursuit and I feel that Gehry's key teaching points below have direct relevance to us all and that we can greatly benefit from his insights and experiences.

"Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness." Frank Gehry

In his masterclass Frank Gehry broke up the main challenges faced by anyone in a creative pursuit into three areas,

1, YOURSELF.  (The main obstacle any creative person must overcome is them self.)

  • Curiosity starts from not knowing something, so not knowing something should always be the starting point. 
  • Anxiety is a natural part of creativity. The higher the stakes, the more anxiety will play a part.
  • You must use your insecurity to drive you to do better work, because insecurity will never leave you.
  • Always be true to yourself, your personality will become your creative signature and your greatest asset.
  • Your creativity can only thrive if you are comfortable with your insecurities and vulnerability.
  • Develop a thick skin because different things from the normal always get criticised.
  • "You can't practice what you haven't invented yet."
  • "There is no such thing as a creative block, it's just an excuse for inaction."
  • "Unfortunately, procrastination is part of the creative process."
  • "The real fun is investigating the crazy things."

2, EXTERNAL CONSTRAINTS. (All creative pursuits operate within a complex environment of regulations, finance, cultural norms, and client expectations.)

  • Building buildings is very democratic. Everything you design and build should be the best it can possibly be under the circumstances.
  • One of the most significant design constraints for a building is gravity.
  • Most architects come unstuck by not working within the budget. You must always respect the budget.
  • You must always respect the neighbours.
  • You must always respect the timeline. Every project has a start and a finish and being able to work to those dates is very important.
  • Being true to yourself and your creativity whilst working within all the external constraints takes real discipline.
  • Creative work is always made up of small victories and small mistakes every day.


  • The challenges of working with the client is a large topic in its own right and is particularly relevant to us all. So, I will devote the next Weekly Email to this topic (and to not make this email too long!).

So, Thanks for reading,
Stay safe + to be continued.


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