Gore Vidal on Style

August 11th, 2006 by Peter Schmelzer

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.”

Gore Vidal

This quote caught my eye, given my recent interview with Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity ( who recently published “Design like you Give A Damn“.)

It’s a really thought provoking quote for me because of the many definitions of style in architecture. Initially, I disagreed, since I see historical architectural styles being parodied in modern residential construction. Then, after more thought, it became clear that Vidal is talking about personal style not just any style. That brought me back to the primary lesson (among many) of the Master’s Thesis: to design sustainably, I have to know my values, for they guide my choices both consciously and subconsciously. Or, in Vidal’s words, I’ve got to know who I am. “What I want to say” relates to the expression of the values and the importance of those values relative to that expression. Example from practice: balancing north-facing windows with heat loss. Not giving a damn means being commited to your values and expression. I’m a convert. The definition works for personal style.

I’m not ready to apply it to architecture, but I open to discussion on the matter. Let me hear your thoughts through the comments!

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