So I was really excited when I heard about the new Architecture Studio set; and even more excited when my wife gave it to me as a birthday present.
And that's it. Go play. Go create.
It's beautifully simple and returns LEGO to it's roots, albeit in a somewhat haughty designer-y kind of way. But I'm okay with that. If you need a little bit of structure the book also features a series of exercises to help you explore the concepts being discussed. The first exercise deals with abstraction - using various sources as inspiration for the design process.
Using the image of a bird as inspiration I first created a "sketch-model." That's my bird above. It seems my LEGO skills, although rusty, are still in tact.
Next, I imagined it as an architectural object. It could be part of a bigger object, perhaps part of a city-scape. Again, there were no rules. My bird morphed into my plan for a new Coast Guard station in Vancouver (we just lost ours to government cut-backs). There's a fenced in area for staging supplies, a landing area for the helicopter, and the glass areas are the observation tower.
All in all I spent about an hour working through the exercise, and it left me feeling a) like I was 10 years old again, and b) amazed at how similar the process I had just gone through with the bird was with the process I go through designing kitchens. That's not to say I'm inspired by birds when I design a kitchen (although I could be I suppose) but I often use a design element in the room our house I'm working in to start on my kitchen design.
The Architecture Studio retails for about $150, which I am told is very close to the $0.10/brick rule of thumb employed by many LEGO fanatics. Add the book and this set, while not inexpensive, is very good value.