Simply put, a charette is an intense design exercise within a set (and often all too short) period of time. A derivative of the French word for ‘cart’, the term refers to a time when students of the école des Beaux-Arts would be so committed to their final projects that they would work feverishly on the final touches until a ‘cart’ came around to collect them. Some students would even climb up onto the cart and continue to put the finishing touches on their work as it was wheeled around the studio!
Charettes have since evolved to include sessions of ideation amongst teams. In the workplace, they are often used to kick-off and invigorate the schematic design phase. This collaborative setting allows for the free flow of thought between designers, where ideas build upon each other until a fitting concept or design solution is found. The energy exhibited during a charette highlights the power and possibility of design. It is a positive and rejuvenating experience that reinforces the value of working together as a team.