yes, we do that
12 March 2013
I suppose I cannot speak for anyone other than myself on this issue, but I find it extremely relevant to our profession. Last week I had two meetings with potential clients. At one point in the meeting each person said “you do that” with a look of being surprised but impressed. What they were referring to was “design” – their term not mine. In other words they didn’t realize architects can choose features other than the structure and wall placement, in other words the fixtures and finishes. Choosing finishes and fixtures (paint colors, wood finishes, lighting fixtures, countertops, flooring, furniture, accessories, etc.) is extremely important to me as it completes the overall vision for the project. I don’t approach it in a FLW-over-the-top-control-freak way, but I think it is important to carry a design theme through from the big idea to the details and finishes. This is architecture.
Perhaps the reaction that sparked this post should cause me just to chuck this one up to the public not knowing or understanding what architects do (or can do). It’s unfortunate. I can’t say that I get to make all of these decisions on every project but I expect to offer the service unless I am told otherwise. On a commercial project I consider the finishes carefully as they are part of the image or branding of the business or institution. I explain this at the outset. On residential projects it is not intended to take the “fun part” away from the client. In fact it is the most enjoyable when I work side-by-side with my clients and we work out these finishes and select the fixtures together. If we have a common goal and a common vision, then the results can be really amazing, however, HGTV has made everyone believe they can be a designer.
What is difficult at times to explain is how the architect has (or should have) an overall vision for the project. You should expect your architect to have an overall vision. We are more than technicians that draw floor plans and work out code issues. If your architect can’t do more than that, then why did you hire them? (Don’t answer that, I know why).
Now back to our client meeting or interview when people need to know that you are capable of making those decisions and trust your shared vision of the project. If clients don’t think about these things, then we need to guide them to think about these things. Give them reasons beyond opinion, preference and taste.
So answer is “yes we do that.”