- How would you introduce yourself to strangers?
Mirel Drăgan, architect and while I’m saying this I probably cover everything: Mirel draws while Drăgan designs. It works together and in the same time.
- What made you choose architecture as a profession?
I think it came naturally, skipping the classic childhood huts at my grandparents house in the countryside and reaching high school friends who understood the neutral attitude towards many of the school subjects and have, at the same time, appreciated my “hand” (here comes the melancholy for the period which gave me so many headaches and, looking back, so many good memories). I graduated with a major in mathematics and physics and I got to a point when at physics, at tests, they would rather ask me to draw fire escape plans, which for the school where considered more useful. I won’t even start talking about chemistry.
Drawing was always there and it represented the escape from everyday problems, an acknowledged talent, but hard to accept by the “authority”, who did not necessarily see a finality in it. At the end this imposed a median direction: architecture.
As I was reaching the end of an intergenerational adolescent war, I saw this choice as a pragmatic solution for compromise, at that time. It had to be something that involved drawing, but not to be focused on it, for a passion should not be done out of obligation. It obviously had to be, for parents, something prestigious for the offspring (all parents want thins, if we think about it, but what did I know at that time?), and most of all, something that would be something that produces fast, so it can maintain the important things, here we’re talking about time for drawing.
- How has architecture influenced you personal development?
Enormous, I would say. I will not I will not enumerate what normally a university needs to do and here think about discipline, maturity etc. I get straight to the major gain related to architecture as a profession and education, namely the control and awareness of space, both graphically, physically and theoretically. (At least this is my experience, the results vary from person to person.) Architecture helped me to dramatically improve my perception of space and gave me the necessary tools for setting and modeling it as I wish. Not to mention the various directions of development (fields) that suddenly became available to me.
On a corridor full of locked doors, architecture represented for me a big set of keys. This corridor I think is ascending, becoming vertical, and here, between the social layers in which we walk, architecture becomes an elevator. I think architecture is “something” which is continuously changing, something which forces you, in a positive sense, to adapt and accept change in turn, stopping you limiting yourself, but to remain open to what is new without doing anything else than improve what you are.
- How would you describe your alternative activity to people unfamiliar with it?
Currently, confident because it’s an asset “accepted by the world”. I start with years of discreet work, hidden, unpromoted only in a closed circle of friends. Continuing with dozens of projects and hundreds of work hours, gathered in collateral successes which give you an accomplice smile in the face of “a long march”, daily, represented by the main training (how many times haven’t I been told not to draw so much at the office!) I conclude with the boom of public exposure and positive feedback brought by the formalization of the field developed in parallel with architecture. (the blindfolding, the holding of breath and jumping into the void, a pleasant surprise upheld by the awaited effect: it flies!)
If you are fed up with architecture, you turn to drawing – there were two moments when this happened. Now, they work in parallel and I think this is how it should be. Drawing and the imagination that stands beside it, have always offered me an allegorical image, different, theatrical, sometimes grotesque or acid of the events I go through or of the people with which I have to deal with.
Drawing becomes the punching bag.
- How has the transition from architecture to your alternative activity occurred?
I think it is exactly the opposite, or at least as I mentioned in the first question, I think they went in parallel. Theoretically, it’s like skiing, when a leg tires, you put off load on the other and vice versa. You have alternatives.
- How do the two activities influence each other?
At first, at the “debarking” in Timişoara, drawing helped a lot the education part (at the design studio and representation at the university). Architecture, in turn, has brought the spatial control of the drawing, the proper representation explained theoretically and the justification of the otherwise random lines done before.
Since the end of my studies and until recently, thanks maybe to the mirage offered by the 3D simulations, there were two powerful activities which had independent directions without intersecting too often. Architecture started from hand sketches and ended up with 3D simulations, and illustration if it started helped by 3d simulations, ended up entirely by hand.
Currently, I think the two sided can coexist in peace, illustration starting to find it’s place in architecture projects, and vice versa.
- To what degree are you present in each of the activities?
I find the time for both of them.
The office takes up most of the hours during day time, excepting the breaks between meetings or moments in which I’m waiting for something, moments when a sketchbook always pops up, with thick white pages and a B mine (necessarily so and not something else). In the afternoon toward evening, when things get quieter, drawing starts, which, for many years now, has a therapeutic effect and makes me forget the worries of the day, in order to bring me closer to the calm of going home. “It seems that you’ve been living two lives mr. Anderson”