February 24, 2020

Attribution: CC BY-SA Harald Krichel

Creativity, authenticity, and the art of being @#$# amazing…

Ed Sheeran is essentially a household name the world over. The ginger-haired youth with piercing blue eyes, endearing British accent, and boy-next-door charm has risen over the past 10 years from local act in his native UK to dominating the international stage.

A lone figure on stage with a foot-pedal, mic, and an intensely pervasive sense of soul… he’s touched millions of individuals. Sheeran’s natural talent and creativity are simply arresting. The raw creativity is tangible — and the world has felt it. His authenticity resonates. 

Sheeran exploded onto the scene and into mainstream recognition in 2011 when his debut album with Asylum Records, titled “+” topped the UK Albums Chart. Sheeran has gone on to dominate internationally with a style all his own — authentically humble, at times self-effacing, and consistently brilliant. 

Sheeran has now sold over 150 million records internationally, making him one of the top-selling artists on the international stage. He has two albums among the top selling in UK chart history, and Spotify recently named Sheeran the second-most streamed artist of the decade (behind only Drake). Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” was Spotify’s most-streamed song of the decade.

Sheeran’s music touches and moves people all over the world, and it seems nearly anyone and everyone can relate to him.  

Lewis Capaldi

Attribution: CC BY Justin Higuchi

Following another case study in authenticity, the Scotsman everyone loves to love — Lewis Capaldi seems to be charting a course as potentially impactful as Sheeran’s. 

In March 2019, the 23 year old’s creative masterstroke, ”Someone You Loved,” topped the UK chart for 7 weeks. By October, it was number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It wasn’t long before the lyrics to the song adorned the exterior of Capitol Records in Hollywood. (I’ve seen them.) This is truly amazing, considering he was playing pubs not so many months ago. He’ll be playing the iconic O2 arena later this year in London.

Straight out of Bathgate in Scotland, Capadi became the first global artist EVER to announce and sell out an arena tour prior to even releasing a debut album. (The shows were actually sold out within one second of tickets becoming available.) He’s original, authentic, and writes all of his own music.

And then there’s Billie…

Attribution: CC BY crommelincklars

Love her, hate her, or simply be confused by her — she is an utter rising power on the international music scene. (At the raw age of 18 years old, no less.)

Two-toned neon hair, baggie clothing, and a meaningful stare — you can pick Billie Eilish out of a crowd with ease. With her brother Finneas, with whom she co-writes and produces her music, they took home 5 Grammys out of a total 6 nominations and straight up dominated international headlines. They simply OWNED the Grammys.  

To put this in perspective, demigod Taylor Swift has 10 Grammys to her name after being in the game for over a decade. The Billie/Finneas combo are now sporting 5, and Billie is not yet 20. I would say things are looking pretty good.

What’s the common thread here?

These three acts are Design-Build.


Design-Build is a natural truth. A concept and sweeping law which actually underlies the natural course of creativity along nearly any pursuit. I am simply using music here as a case study. 

Step back and take a look.

These artists are actually Design-Build in the finest sense. Ed and Luis individually, and Billie/Finneas as a duo, are Design-Build in how they create music and bring it to the world. Ed and Luis each write and perform their own music. Billie and Finneas do so in tandem as a brother and sister combination, but all 3 acts design (write) and then artistically execute their own creations (builds). They are responsible from start to finish.

Authenticity, truth, and quality are aspects that resonate with individual consumers or fans across any industry or creative avenue.

Attribution: © Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com

Sheeran, Capaldi, and the brother/sister duo of Billie and Finneas stand out in the musical landscape in no small part due to their ability to authentically envision, plan, and create exceptional and impacting music.

They take it from start to finish — themselves. Envision, plan, create, execute. Master builders and creators in their own right. 

Design-Build as auteurism

The same fundamental vein of truth and authenticity in relation to the creative process applies to the Design-Build process of creating beautiful and meaningful buildings and spaces.

We could just as easily translate this to the creation of a beautiful statue, such as the David, or the creation of an invaluable building, such as the Eiffel Tower.

Design-Build is the creation of practical, aesthetic spaces in their purest sense — the process that humans have been skillfully and brilliantly doing since time immemorial. The concept and design is dreamed and planned, then executed by one responsible and fully accountable individual or group of individuals. Responsibility, accountability, and authorship remain intact and are not arbitrarily fragmented.

In my view, there is clearly an aesthetic parallel in the music industry.

Not that the performance of another’s song can’t be amazing, but there is something truly authentic and soulful to a singer-songwriter uplifting a person, a nation, and moving the world with their creation.

This was the Beatles and Bob Dylan. They were Design-Build, so to speak — and they shook the world.

It was also the master-builders of Greece, Rome, the creators of the Parthenon, Eiffel Tower, and White House. It’s a concept I find fascinating.  

Design-Build is not hype, a fad, or a pitch. It is the natural course of creating. In my case, buildings and beautiful spaces that enhance and uplift lives.























Published February 24, 2020 | By

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