Is there value in spending time on something with no practical application whatsoever? Josh Lewandowski reckons so. The Minneapolis-based architect-designer has a blog where he has been posting an architectural doodle every day (save a brief hiatus after he fell ill). The sketches are beautiful, colorful, and, in his own words, almost completely pointless.
The small drawings, done in pen and ink and on paper, depict all manner of architectural elements—stairs, walls, vaults—in frenzied compositions. At a distance, they might seem to depict real projects. But in truth, they're nonsense; they have no use or meaning and don’t pretend to possess any. “The drawings appear meaningful without actually being helpful," Lewandowski explains. “Some might seem to reference real things or show some sort of relationship between things, but this is merely accidental.”
The project grew out of Lewandowski’s lifelong propensity for doodling. He tells Co.Design that he caught the sketching bug after playing with Lego, wood blocks, and other building toys, and after repeatedly watching an afternoon PBS art special called "The Secret City" which showed the audience how to "draw in 3-D." Both helped him to cultivate a knack for drawing architecturally, only freehand, without the instruments—T-square, straight edge, French curves—usually associated with architectural drafting.
Today, sketching is practically second-nature for Lewandowski, who has a masters of architecture from Yale and runs the multidisciplinary design studio Nordeast Industries. The minute he picks up a pen, he goes into "drawing autopilot," he says. “I have been doing [the sketches] so long that [they have] become something I do, just as some tap their feet or crack their knuckles."
The pointless diagrams aren't totally pointless. For one, Lewandowski is selling them on Etsy (for $110 to $500). They're also a welcome distraction from his regular work. As Lewandowski writes on his blog: "I’m doing it because of my sincere belief that setting aside time to doodle useless stuff is extremely useful."