Clever Moderns is the brainchild of architect Earl Parson. The concept was born of his love of both music and architecture. The two art forms share many concepts, such as rhythm and proportion, among others. They also share a similarity to their creation, in that both are produced in the real world from printed notation: music is performed from a score, and buildings are constructed from plans. Although score and plans represent the final artwork in some sense, they are not themselves the actual work of art. This is in contrast to a painting, for example, where the artist puts paint on canvas, and that is the work of art.

Whereas music is reproduced many times over, in different venues and by different performers, architectural works are almost exclusively individual and unique creations. You can hear your favorite band play their greatest hits over and over in different concerts, and each time it’s a fresh, unique experience. Your favorite symphony performed by different conductors and orchestras might produce some versions you like better than others, but they’re all considered (more or less) valid renditions of the work. Architecture, on the other hand, doesn’t work that way at all. Architectural works tend to be highly customized, individualized creations. Most clients of architects wouldn’t look too kindly on their plans being re-sold to the next client, and that next client wouldn’t be too keen on getting a recycled set of plans when they’re paying full price for a custom design.

But what if there were a different way? What if the plans were created around the idea of open, flowing spaces, lots of light, simplicity of construction, and with all the details included for a complete architectural experience? And what if they were offered up around a community of users, sharing their experiences with each other, comparing ideas for individualizing and customizing them, and supporting one another? Why couldn’t an architect’s efforts be reproduced over and over, with many people enjoying their own personal version of it?

This was the kernel of an idea that grew into Clever Moderns.