For the last 12 years I have been in the architectural field, and because of the universe pointing me into another direction, I can honestly say that I don’t miss the client- architect relationship. Not to say that I would never go back, but I realized later in my career that the interaction or tug-of-war between the client, your dreams of what the building should look like, and your company’s demands of what it will look like, and the unrealistic goals of all parties involved became taxing to me!
Architects are stuck in an uncomfortable existence between the dreams, aspirations
and desires of the client and to put it bluntly, the laws of common sense, decency and good design. This becomes more apparent the more time you spend with clients wishing to create the famed ‘open planned living experience’. When all is said and done, 90% of them would ignore good design treatments for the ultimate space internally, regardless of what this meant for the outside of the building or how muddled the entire space looked.
An architect has to balance these (sometimes illogical) demands with local requirements for design, sustainability, energy conservation and good taste – sometimes it isn’t possible to give you everything you want if you’d actually like your home built.
A good client is one that understands this need for balance. Not a ying/yang all things equal kind of balance, but rather an appreciation that great architecture and good internal design is born out of an interpretation of space, design and planning laws that is sympathetic to each. What it isn’t about is serving every wild whim of a client who really doesn’t know what they want.
If I could pass one message onto clients it would be this: Let your architect do their job. We are experts in creating structures that fulfill the majority of even the most outlandish internal design requirements, and that also get through planning – its what we’ve studied for. If you want great design, both internally and externally then let an architect do what it is you’re paying him for. Design inspiration is great, but we don’t need the entire contents of Google dumped in our inbox. The great Australian businessman Bob Clifford once said – “we will find ways to deliver”. I’m going to add a worth Australian caveat to that – “if you let us do our bloody jobs”.
Great design is a labour of love, for both the client and the designer. Don’t turn it into a laborious task than is isn’t fruitful for anyone. Trust in your architect, and they will deliver, I promise.
Nick Varey – I live in London, UK, and work for a small Architecture practice. My passion is great design, and I am the founder and editor of habitables.co.uk I created the site to be a place for the dissemination of great design and architecture.
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