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Pre-designing, de-designing, undesigning

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin creates a pretend building for the Bitcoin people

MONDAY To Dalston. This used to be a pub but is now some sort of upmarket Stalinist saloon bar. The ‘drinks’ are partially liquidised fruit and vegetables poured into old pickle jars by bitter aspiring playwrights dressed in gulag chic.   

I’m meeting Atticus, a new client. He fits right in here – a wealthy media popinjay who wears his stupid hat indoors in the style of George Galloway. Each time a new song occurs on the generic indie bedwetters playlist, he gazes out of the window like a sickly Labrador and murmurs ‘oh man, I LOVE this tune…’

He mimes a lot. He’s looking for a ‘practical visionary’ to create an amazing house in the heart of some blissfully unaware countryside. ‘A place to live…’ Here a sweeping gesture of the sort Jesus might have made to his disciples. ‘Work…’ He furrows his brow and indicates a laptop, or possibly a piano. ‘And play…’ No no, please don’t. Alas, the gormless smirk and an almost imperceptible pelvic wave are already underway. ‘I’m gonna call it my Bloodpad? Cos mi posse be coming at weekends fi utterly mash up the entire area, believe. Stag Cen‑tral…’ Ugh, there goes his pelvis again.

I hate him. But I’m pretty sure that behind the gurning ‘energy’, complacent dentistry and pukka threads is someone lucky and stupid who doesn’t look too closely at invoices. He announces he’s ‘going to the bathroom?’ Starts to leave, then turns with a mischievous smile. ‘What sort of DANCE could this building be, bruh?’ he wonders, like the full-spectrum shithead he so obviously is. ‘And what MUSIC would it be dancing to? Yeah? Yeah?’

In this business you have to be … not a ‘people person’ necessarily, but certainly a ‘wanker person’. You learn to jot down some notes while a prospective client is in the toilet and then tell him upon his return that his house might be an elegant quadrille say, performed by period yet futuristic gentlefolk wearing clothes from a bonkers V&A exhibition curated by the Chapman Brothers. The music could perhaps be a mad, ultra-loud cacophony of modern jazz blaring from a 1980s boombox.

You learn to recognise the ‘billable start date’ shining in your client’s eyes. And you learn also that odd contraction within yourself, perhaps where your soul would have been, in those far-off days of gentlefolk and quadrilles.

TUESDAY I have to design a theoretical HQ for the Bitcoin people. The brief: ‘lots of mathematics in it but must look completely undesigned’. I calculate this will take me exactly 72 hours and cost a kilo of Bitcoins.

WEDNESDAY In the morning, design a Bitcoin HQ shaped like a 3D Wi-Fi symbol, its fan of concentric arcs held firmly in place by Hard Air©.

In the afternoon, I de-design it. In the evening, I redesign it. Now it looks more like a happy foetus.

THURSDAY Start again with Bitcoin Towers. Pre‑design it, before finally undesigning it. Send the client a ‘pretend building’. Receive my ‘pretend fee’ – a weird ‘data worm’ that appears to have eaten the contents of my laptop. God, this world.

There are mutterings about a previous job, the  restoration of a Norman castle into boutique apartments and a  restaurant, Keep Eating

FRIDAY What is life without trust? Nothing. A joyless trudge through suspicion and self-interest.

I am saddened by those cynics who are publicly undermining my reputation with their unfounded smears. Yes, we have temporarily removed the ‘iconic’ so-called ‘listed’ chimneys from Tamworth’s historic coal-fired power station. It’s part of its repurposement as Cloud Tetris, an exciting luxury residential development aimed at bringing ‘Continentopolitan style’ to the heart of England.

The clear implication in these snide attacks is that we will neglect to replace the chimneys. There are mutterings about a previous job I was involved with, the sensitive restoration of a Norman castle into boutique apartments and a new restaurant, Keep Eating, run by a quarter-finalist from Masterchef.

Yes, the keep was supposed to have been put back two years ago. But it’s still being carefully restored by genuine Norman craftspeople, in Normandy I think, I’d have to check. But what? People aren’t allowed to eat food that goes on a journey any more? Please, a little trust wouldn’t go amiss.

SATURDAY Marvellous blindfolded group exploration of contemporary building textures with new wave orienteers Urban Mooch.

SUNDAY Locked out of recliner by some sort of dark web ‘pre-wall’. 

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