The Experience of Being Both the Architect and the Client
Situated in a community just outside of San Diego proper, my 1939 built home has simple interior detailing with Spanish Eclectic elements that were typical in this region for that era of home. Having a more modernist sensibility, I wanted to respect the era of the home and interiors while creating a more modern aesthetic. Keep in mind that “modern” is a scary word for many. Often people think it is devoid of warmth or comfort and thoughts wander to images of sterile and cold-feeling spaces; at Asquared Studios however, we believe that modern should really only be considered to be a current period in time. Everything was modern at one time, even my own home. Therefore, think of modern as taking advantage of current available material, technologies and products. So for sake of assigning it a style, let’s call my bathroom renovation a “modern Spanish Eclectic”. My intent was not to mimic a period in time but to respect the existing context or language of the house.
As my own client I did have a budget. However, I often had to remember the same advice we provide our own clients. When a client asks “can I do that”, we answer “we can do pretty much anything, but does it fit within the budget, and do you want to afford it”. When examining the design and execution of specific details or evaluating the merits of specific materials, costs can easily fluctuate. This is what we mean by “do you want to afford it”. Often the most visually clean and elegant detailing is the most time consuming to construct.
Though it has been one year now, the memories loom well in my mind. The constant dust around my house, the never ending questions presented by the contractor and the seemingly never-ending schedule changes due to product delays. As an architect, many of us hope to someday design for ourselves. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to design a bathroom remodel for my own home and experience the architectural process both as the designer and the client.
We typically experience having to explain the value of our services and what we offer our clients. Is it for the design, our field experience, our professional advice, our listening ear, etc? Well, it’s really all of the above. Being emotionally invested offered a perspective which was a new experience. It is definitely easier for us to assist a client in making rational choices when we can separate emotions from the experience. Although we practice a heightened sense of empathy when it comes to navigating the emotional connections of a project with a client, my own personal experience has given me even a more intuitive sense of how to help our clients navigate a potentially stressful experience.
Now, having had the experience of being my own client, I believe I can be a more successful Architect. We believe there is always room for improvement, and we are continually evaluating our experiences so we can bring these lessons forward to our past, current, and future clients. We look forward to taking our evolving practice and applying it to your next dream.
As we approach the end of the year we reflect on what the past year meant to us, what we accomplished, and what we have learned to carry with us into the new year. One of the things we find we consistently appreciate in our work is the power of collaboration. This is explained early in our process, and we identify this as an “Owner Inspired Vision”. We rely on our clients to participate in our process to create a vision that is uniquely theirs. This vision becomes our target goal throughout the design and construction process. We have found that successful collaboration creates a successful project.
We were reminded of the level of collaboration required during each phase of a project in our recent experience of preparing for and managing the professional photography of one of our completed projects. Of course our intent with photographing a project is always to express the intent behind our design and the pride of our clients, but this particular project was also selected for a spread in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine. Because of this there was a greater need to continue the precedent of collaboration through the photographic process.
Our photography team included our clients, the photographers, a stylist, and the magazine. To kickoff the process we held a walk through of the residence well in advance of the actual shoot. This gave us the ability to work with the stylist to ensure that the personality of the client was maintained while creating eye-catching images of the home.
Fast forward to the day of the photoshoot. We started in the early morning hours with the Stylist. The stylist, Asquared Studios, and the clients worked to methodically prepare the first few set-ups in advance of the photographers and magazine editors arrival. Once the photographer arrived, we worked with them to ensure that the language of the architecture was brought forth in an impactful way to express the intended proportion, scale, light, and color. With that, we want to make sure that the photographs tell the story of how the house accommodates the lives of the owners, including how it flows, how it is used, and how they live in it to make the space their own. We relied on the our clients throughout the day to help us tell their story. The photoshoot was a true success.! Our collaborative process led to the editor’s selection of our project to be featured on their magazine cover.
Ultimately, the enthusiastic participation by the client at this stage of the project only reinforces the power of our “Owner Inspired Vision” philosophy and process. As we close out 2019 and move into 2020, we are excited to move forward in collaboration with new clients, consultants, contractors, and whomever else we have the honor to work with.