Today was one thousand and one days since setting up this studio and beginning to write you these letters.
I wonder how long people will live when you read this letter. In my day, the average life expectancy of someone born in this country, is 81.6 years, or almost 30,000 days. To know the measure of a thousand days, I picture my lifetime compressed down to a single month. This thousand-day journey would have taken a day from that month-long life.
I imagine myself setting out on a long walk at the first hint of sun rising on the horizon. Where would I go, and what could I see? Night falls. I continue through twilight, midnight, and the dark hours before dawn. As rose-coloured light fills the east, I know the sun is coming and only twenty-nine days remain of a brief span on this earth. Have I accomplished what I set out to do on this precious day? Have I made the right choices? Should I have taken a different path?
A thousand days is a long time to spend on any endeavour, and this one has been no different. To spend a thousand days is to continue, day on day, week on week, through all the highs and lows, through days of feeling strong and days of feeling weak. To persevere for this duration requires a certain structure and a certain discipline. Years of working in office buildings have developed in me the rigor of just showing up—just being there every morning, five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. The “place” in a workplace is so important for any journey like this one.
Yesterday I visited the Shard to see the site for our latest project. In our day the Shard is the tallest building in all of Europe. It stands as a tall crystal pyramid overlooking the Thames. One can see it from all corners of London—even from our house on distant Barnsbury Hill. We are designing experimental work areas on the twelfth floor for a company called Mitie. These “biophilic” spaces will immerse the workers in natural materials, rich textures, and dynamic light.
As we measure the effects of those spaces on the employees there, we hope to learn more about what factors will help them feel stronger, more focused, and more motivated at their daily jobs. Day in, day out, the workers will spend time in these spaces that your grandfather has created for them. Will these spaces help those people take their own thousand day journeys? Will they add meaning and richness to the days spent working? I hope so.
All best wishes, your grandfather. 13 September 2017.
p.s. from today I began writing down the music I was listening to while writing you these letters. Today was: Birth – Piano and String Quintet, by Dario Faini, Dardust.