Architects and Designers
With a little bit of blogging experience under my belt by now I have been able to figure out what interests people by the amount of comments I receive. I receive many of these comments via email instead of on the comments section under the post. I am happy to answer questions on issues, give advice, or have my eyes opened to new possibilities. However, we need to keep in mind that we are part of a bigger community of designers and architects and open dialogue is a wonderful way to share vital information and is a way of keeping our industry strong.
We have all made mistakes, been taken advantage of, or said "boy, I’ll never do it that way again" somewhere along the way. Whether it be a billing issue, client issue, vendor issue, contract issue, or any of the other gazillion things that can go wrong, there is always a lesson to be learned. Hopefully we have all learned from our previous unsuccessful endeavors, picked ourselves up off the pavement, and moved ahead both cautiously and confidently knowing that it is a lesson learned. After the anguish and stress of dealing with a problem, I always think the bright side of making a mistake is the chances of one making that same mistake again are unlikely. I feel that Cindy’s Salon is a great opportunity for us to talk through some of the nitty-gritty details and less glamorous issues that are a part of our daily work. We can share our experiences and get advice from our peers and colleagues on design paths we are about to take. With advice from others, we may even be able to place our feet safely into the footsteps another designer has already made. I can not tell you how much I have appreciated advice from colleagues in the past.
Once I met David Mann through Cindy at an event and called him a week later asking him for professional advice. I am not sure if he remembered me or not, but he was so kind and generous in taking the time to talk to me. My friend, the incredibly talented Shamir Shah has also been a great help to me in the past. I have drilled him on contracts and billing, and I call on him often for advice on vendors.
I receive a great response from my blogs on designer/architect relationships and I think it is worth a little more exploring and sharing. The following is a real question I received recently, and I think sharing it will be great in starting an open discussion. So feel free to leave your comments (in the comments section below). Thank you very much!
Working independently, is there any way I can incentivize architects (they make a 5-10 percent fee on projects), by offering a finders fee of say 10 percent of my revenues from my cost plus markup to make the collaboration more interesting, yet ethical? (I was hoping to charge my clients flat creative fee for time/concept and/or +20-30 percent service markup on discounted trade pricing for soft furnishings, textiles, etc.)
GV: Hmm, not sure about the finder’s fee, however, architects usually want a designer on board. It means the designer can do a lot of the shopping and hand holding they might not want to do. This may be incentive enough for the architect. The important thing is to find an architect who believes your style can add value to the project and, of course, an architect whom you admire and jives with your style, too. Often the architect can help sell your services to the client.
Most architectural firms without an interior design department want an interior designer on the job to make their project the best it can be. No architect wants to see their finished masterpiece void of furniture or, worse, junked up with bad furniture. So my advice is to sell your style and your expertise. I have billed in every way imaginable and I think a flat fee with a percentage markup is a sound way of billing. The million-dollar questions, of course, are how to determine the design fee and what is a fair mark-up.