The power of observation can never be underestimated in design disciplines. Architect Paul Trotter gives us a personal insight into a creative side-project with his daughter Clare – A Diary for Day Dreamers where users can record their daily graphical responses in the sub-tropics.

The idea for the diary was the brain child of my daughter Clare Trotter who has talents in graphic design.

I am a self-confessed weather nerd, doodler with an unhealthy interest in our climate. Being a sailor and architect as trained by my father I was always interested in how my boat or buildings would interact with the weather! I had two little ‘hobby’ projects on the run when considering the diary concept.

The first project was the creation of a seasonal mandala / calendar that I had developed using astronomical and meteorological records and my own observations of the seasons and our flowering plants. The mandala is way too complicated but is rich with layers of information and detailing which is a feature of my illustration work.

The second project I had undertaken over a couple of years was to try and summarise in the form of a narrative how we experience each month of the year. This was done by making comments about the movement of the sun, weather systems and the changes in the flora and fauna in a way that would be familiar to the lay person (and me).

So I had developed these two projects and had no idea what to do with them. This is where my daughter Clare and I ‘kicked’ around ideas until we came up with a diary that included these two projects which we could build upon with each new edition of the diary (the diary could then be given to my clients as a Christmas gift).

We opted for a tactile product that would allow the reader or user to make their own observations and record rainfall, trees in flower, temperatures and other phenomena. The diary was created to be used any year and started anytime which meant the user had the fun of filling it out every time. The diary also features large blank pages for sketching or recording events. In fact, the diary was probably designed around how I would like to use it every year!

The current 2015 edition is our second edition that was enriched with some sketches I had included in our first diary, including black and white sketches of flowering trees that could be ‘coloured-in’. We also lengthened the sections on recording climate data and the flowering or defoliating of trees.

Presently, I have been using my diary in 2016 to create a whole new set of sketches that attempt to capture the happenings of each month (beyond flowering trees) my favourite being a diving magpie in spring that is surrounded by flowering bottle brushes that is such a common feature of September.

So the diary is really my own self-indulgent obsession that I hope to share with other locals who find our part of the world special.

This obsession manifested itself as a global adventure to compare other sub-tropical cities along the same 25-30 degree south latitude from Durban, South Africa to Florianopolis, Brazil that all share a similar array of street trees, which could compel me to expand the reach of my diary…

Paul Trotter


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