An Architect's Guide to Design Inspiration
Architect Deborah Berke—winner of the new Berkeley-Rupp Prize, celebrating the advancement of women in architecture—shares the everyday objects that inspire her most.
architect Deborah Burke
Q: How would you describe the buildings you design?
DB: My work is very simple and spare. I'm not a religious person, but I was raised as a Congregationalist—think the clean white churches in New England with no stained glass. The clarity and simplicity of those spaces impacted me deeply.

Q: You design both public buildings and private residences. What do you like about designing houses?
DB: I like how, at the end of the day, everybody does the same things at home: You eat, you sleep, you take pleasure in solitary and social pursuits. Yet when I'm making a house, those universal things manifest so differently.

Q: So few working architects are female. Do you see that as a hurdle?
DB: Like any woman in any male-dominated profession, you get used to being the only woman in the room a lot of the time. But being used to it doesn't mean I don't want it to change.
ombre box
Material Samples
Berke piles a rotating stack of samples, like this block of resin, on her windowsill. "I really like how they look when the sun hits them."
Raaka Chocolate
"Dark chocolate is an absolute necessity every afternoon. Just a tiny bit."
Custom GJ Chair
To benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Berke was one of 20 designers who created a custom version of Grete Jalk's classic chair.
Louis Vuitton scarf
Louis Vuitton Scarf
"Blue and pink leopard print sounds ridiculous, but this scarf is handy at work. In the winter it's warm, and in summer I throw it on in a frozen meeting room."
Muji Notebooks
"These are lovely but simple. Each page has a grid of dots, which allows you to write in straight lines but doesn't get in the way of sketching."
bridge cable
Bridge Cable
"A friend gave me this piece of the original cable from the Brooklyn Bridge. I think it's inspiring and incredibly beautiful."
Dymaxion Map
"Buckminster Fuller's map reminds me to look at things from a different point of view. That's important in design, politics, and friendships."

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