Parking the ego at the door

We all need to leave our egos at the door when interpreting the client’s vision. Because it is exactly that – the client’s vision. The fit out consultants, the designers and the architects are merely enablers of that vision and a little humility can go a long way.

It’s long been suspected that the architect is no stranger to ignoring the design criteria for any given job in favour of imposing his or her own ‘vision’. Architects like to put their own stamp on jobs – it’s expected of them. Their signature justifies their costs and, if they have a high-profile, lauded portfolio, their involvement in a project, alone, adds some value.

Architects also traditionally work on a final percentage so their money automatically increases if the job ramps up and their suggestions are taken on board and implemented – in short, the more the job costs, the more that they get paid. And so, it’s often to the architect’s advantage to drive complex, elevated designs which may exceed the client’s brief but aren’t necessarily as ‘fit for purpose’ as a less showy, practical design, created with the needs of all end-users in mind.

This has changed somewhat over the last ten to twenty years. Following the rise of design and build, the architect has lost his or her footing on the small to medium-sized jobs as clients have discovered that a good design manager can equally meet their needs.

Loss of status has its effect on ego and many architects have been forced to be less precious in order to regain the ground taken by design and build operations and offer a valid alternative. It’s a competitive market and there are now some compelling, thought-provoking and, most importantly, equally engaging designs surfacing from the more ambitious and creative design and build projects. Projects don’t necessarily have to be architect-led in order to stand out.

The key factor for any architect or designer to remember is this: There are many great visionaries out there but the quality most valued is the ability to listen. Taking on a project with a sympathetic approach, adhering to the requirements of the client while understanding the needs of the end user, requires great finesse and a keen ability to listen and process information from all parties concerned. To do that and to bring creativity to the table is gold dust.



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