Last year, John Morefield set up a booth at a farmers' market in Seattle selling architectural advice for a nickel. His goal was to make enough money to support himself but he ended up receiving so many commissions that he earned $50,000 last year. In Architect or Whatever, a New York Times article, Michael Hanson also writes about the journeys of a few architectural designers including successful entrepreneurs running a ice cream sandwich business and a man attending truck driving school to support his family. The underlying message is bittersweet. Designers find themselves unable to find work in their field and have to be creative to support themselves. And I can relate.
Among the many to be laid off in the year 2008, I was convinced that I would find another job within a few months. I worked with headhunters, sent out several resumes, went on informational interviews, and networked like I had never done before. All to no avail. I gave up in the summer of 2009 and focused on completing my thesis work and pursued projects on my own. I realized that I was my best asset and despite how incredibly draining running your own one-man business can be...I was energized and vowed never to return to my days stuck behind a computer amidst the rigid bureaucracy of firms. I had struggled for so long to find my passion and honestly I couldn't think of anything else that I would ever want to do...besides being independently wealthy of course. I never thought two years ago that at 30, I would be working directly with my clients and teaching interior design to a new generation of designers.
I am at lost at times when I think about the future of architecture and interior design. I am still unsure what is to come for us as firms continue to lay people and dissolve. The need for designers is still present and all is not lost but clients are significantly more cost-conscious and ready for a much more transparent process where they work more directly with those that are actually designing. And that means opportunities for young designers to create small firms of their own. We just have to be self aware and creative. Who knows how developing new skills might inform the development of a new architecture.
IMAGE FROM New York Times