The beauty of Maya Lin’s Boundaries (Simon & Schuster, 2000) is the strong title concept that weaves together the book’s beautiful photographs, narrative, and graphic design. Her simple, yet focused designs — both in architecture and art — are great examples of strong design concepts executed precisely and beautifully. As an American woman of color who is also an environmental designer like myself, her personal story and strong design sense still inspire me to simplify my designs to their essence and to seek out where edges/oppositions/transitions/boundaries can exist in a design, and in life.
Always curious to see how artists work, I particularly appreciate the inclusion of Ms. Lin’s handwritten essay and hand drawn graphics that composed her entry for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, probably her most famous project to date. Other favorite projects described in the book include Women’s Table at Yale, and the Langston Hughes Library in Clinton, Tennessee.
I also appreciated her description of her design process, one that begins with a written narrative to define the project and its goals and the design response. I often feel the need to do this writing exercise as well to complement early design sketches or bubble diagram plans.