Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Artistry & Business: How Architects/Designers Navigate Two Distinct Worlds…

 In today’s world, how does an Architect become successful professionally and still retain their artistry? To be a successful Architect today, you must be able to merge these two worlds seamlessly, combining business success, profitability, and artistry.  How can you be a success in business by having a strong firm with a plentiful clientele and keep it balanced with the philosophy of your artistic expression?

Architecture is a medium based on functionality and public use. Without Architects we would not have homes, offices, public spaces, hotels, restaurants etc. The Architect’s job is to design usable spaces for the public while striving to create structures that will stand the test of time.

Being an Architect is a one of the most demanding and labor-intensive careers requiring extreme discipline, social skills, business savvy and persistence. The challenge is to integrate the business and the artist.  Architects who work for a firm, are dedicated to specific projects with goals laid out by the project manager or principal of the firm and they execute the work delegated.  The Architect may be given one component of the overall project to focus on, and often with a demanding and rigorous schedule and long hours, focusing on every detail to ensure a happy client.

If the Architect is the principal of their own firm, responsibilities increase exponentially. Not only are they the designer, they are also the supervisor, liaison, communicator, financial planner, marketer, manager  and face of their brand and firm. They also are responsible for the livelihoods of staff and consultants and must maintain their jobs as well. The dedication to be the principal of an Architecture firm is enormous and there are many cogs in that machine that must work harmoniously.

This is when the deductive and organizational skills of a good Architect come in handy. A professional learns how to manage all these factors while still being the creative force behind the business. Their creativity is not stopped because of the business, most times their creativity is spurred by the promise of new projects and opportunities. This is the balancing act that every good Architect/Designer manages. To be a success in this field requires this patience and determination and an unwavering conviction of their creative principles.

 

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Navy as Neutral… A Design Inspiration for Fall 2018…

Navy is a refreshing option for decor this Fall 2018… now is the time for the latest design inspirations to fill the pages of magazines, blogs, and retail stores and our Client’s homes, offices and commercial spaces. Design trends encapsulate what Architects/Interior Designers are gravitating towards in home decor, commercial and retail decor and hospitality spaces. Color can drastically alter an interior space. It can enhance and embellish an otherwise banal room and create a dramatic area that looks new and fresh. I am drawn to a neutral palette of color for my spaces I design. I love the look of a deep navy blue, a new neutral choice that can be paired with many other dramatic tones yet remain an anchor color. Navy is a sometimes-overlooked hue, because we have so long thought of black being the ultimate chic neutral. Navy works well in a large space to create drama or a smaller room to evoke a cozy atmosphere and cocoon like feel.

It may be a piece of furniture that can anchor a space, like in this image of my project UN Plaza Duplex. This navy velvet sofa by B&B Italia brings the drama in an unexpected way and works beautifully with the chrome hardware and art installation fireplace. This large piece feels comfortable and not overwhelming and looks rich and has textural appeal giving the space depth. Navy has a moody appeal not overpowering but works well with a fall/ winter vibe in the home. Its richness and opacity lend a comforting vibe with a touch of mystery and moody ambiance.

Working with a new type of neutral can give the client options, advising them on accent pieces and color complements will help them to understand that not every neutral is beige, grey or white. Thinking outside of this bubble can create a more beautiful space with new ideas for decor that maybe were not thought about before. Designers create inspiration for our clients,  what we see that looks new and modern and we suggest appropriate versions and applications for our clients and their respective spaces.

Preserving 550 Madison Avenue NYC

Architectural Landmarks are our history in brick, marble, steel, and stone. Architects are the masters of transforming these materials into beautiful works of art and function. But what happens when profitability and business become the goal when proposing to change an Architectural treasure in a large city? This happened here in NYC with the contentious battle to preserve Philip Johnson’s ode to post modernism at 550 Madison Ave building (ATT Building)

After an almost certain death of this structure and a go ahead to re-imagine the building’s famous façade, there was a miracle. After a nearly yearlong passionate effort to preserve this building, on July 31, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate the 37-story office tower’s exterior a New York City landmark. In the fall of 2017 the Architectural firm Snøhetta was chosen to re-imagine the skyscraper as a contemporary office space with a transparent base to allow more room for public space. That didn’t set well with many Architecture preservationists, and the push to have it land marked got underway immediately. Examples of Architectural movements are the legacy of those who were the creators and innovators of a new way to build and design.

Madison Avenue has always been a posh and upscale area of NYC with new constructions abounding embracing modernity and emerging styles and integrating them with classic old buildings. But what about the history? The homage and reverence to those who paved the way, who initiated this new way to create? Their contributions to society should be preserved. When the campaign started over social media there was an instant response from Architects, Designers and lovers of design. There was a protest outside the building that drew attention to the need for landmark status that drew not only artists and designers but citizens who love this building and did not want to see this historic Architecture changed by this new renovation.

There is power in numbers, in a united voice championing something that should be preserved. This is what brought the fate of 550 Madison Avenue to the forefront for the LPS.

After months of deliberation the right decision was made and the façade will remain without a new canopy and the renovation can take place in the inner structure but the outside, Philip Johnson’s post modern story will remain.

The Power of a Precise Product Specification

As the Architect/Designer for a project it is our responsibility to select the most appropriate products and materials for our clients. While we are researching manufacturer catalogs and websites for a certain item, we rely on the company’s high standards and expertise of their product and on the specifications they provide. For example, after every project is finished I present my clients with a specification manual, which contains all items and materials used in their project, orders, and manuals for each product. This is a helpful tool for the client in case they have a challenge with any item in their home after the project is complete. They have the information needed to contact manufacturers or showrooms if necessary for replacements, repairs or maintenance.

The product specification or cut sheet is very integral to the project. There may not be enough time to go to every showroom or company that is providing the material so in the design process, so a precise specification gives the Architect/ Designer the information needed to further the project along; dimensions and material, installation instructions, and the specific tools needed to install.

We rely on the correct information because that determines so much of the design’s success. For example, integrated appliances that go into built in cabinetry must have the correct dimensions. We order the product with the exact dimension to go with our design especially when we do a custom fabrication from a manufacturer of cabinetry, closets, and shelving. When the product arrives, we expect that it will fit within our design, allying ourselves to the fact that the specification we studied is correct.

The challenge arises when the product specification is incorrect, or the dimension of the specification differs from the real product when it arrives on site. Then our job is to understand if the product will even work. Manufacturers sometimes do not put specific dimensions on their product sheet, measurements that can indicate allowances and depth or thickness that are necessary for the designer to know.

Having a product delivered and not being able to insert correctly into a design could damage an Architect/Designer’s reputation. The client hires us to design and identify the most appropriate products for their project. If the product ordered is not fitting with the design because the specification has even the smallest discrepancy, we must find the solution quickly. The right specs are integral to installation of appliances, fixtures and lighting. As Architects/Designers we rely on their accuracy to bring our designs to fruition.

How to Choose the Right Material for Every Surface of Your Design Project …

When a client has made the decision to do some renovations and cosmetic tweaks in their space, one of the most important aspects of the design process is material selection.

There are many factors that can determine what materials the client will choose for every surface of their space.

Here are a few tips that can assist in deciding on the right materials for your home or office. These are some good preliminary questions before you begin working with a designer, showroom or sourcing materials yourself. It will save you time and budget if you are clear on your needs for your space.

  1. Who will use this space: Is it a home for a single person? family? Or an office that is highly trafficked and utilized daily? The answers to these questions will determine materials like flooring. Selecting a durable product is important if the space has a lot of use.
  2. What kind of natural light is in the space? This is important because it can help to figure out finishes like matter or glossy, textures and color. Think about shadows, glare and bleaching of fabrics and wall coverings from direct sunlight
  3. Are you someone that cooks and uses the kitchen area a lot? This most definitely matters when choosing a counter top, creating an island, appliance surfaces, cabinetry, kitchen plumbing and flooring. A well used kitchen needs to be composed of durable materials that are also easy to clean and maintain. Also consider
  4. if you want an eat in style kitchen and if this room is where family, friends and guests gravitate toward. This will also provide some clarity on furniture, seating and floor covering.If you have a family with many children, think about durability, high quality and lasting materials; no delicate materials that can be damaged quickly. Think about fixtures and tub and shower surfaces that are safe, functional and aesthetically beautiful. Also think about maintenance; are these materials easy to clean and what kind of cleaners can you use on a regular basis.
  5. If your space is an office, how high is the foot traffic? Is there a waiting area frequented by clients? This will also determine furniture coverings, flooring and carpets to protect the floor.

These are some items to consider when doing your material selection. It is important to match the material to the level of functionality so that your renovation can stand the test of time. It is also important to understand how these materials will interact with each other, how harmony can be created within the home or commercial space. Material selection is primary to the success of a project. I hope these tips can help the client to hone in on what materials are appropriate for their space.

How to Use Social Media to Boost Your Firm’s Brand…

There is no denying the power of social media and how beneficial it can be to a business and their brand. It is the epicenter of tastemakers, trend setters, designers, artists and an oracle for what is au courant in pop culture. For an Architect/Interior Designer, social media is a very useful tool. We are in the business of building dreams,  and are not only technicians but visual artists who use imagery to illustrate our concepts to our clients.

Instagram has become the premiere social media tool in business, culture, art, fashion and design. It is an easy way for designers to showcase their work and see how their brand appeals to this very discerning audience who are given so much to look at and so many choices. It is like a focus group, you post an image and you see the favorable response instantaneously and can identify more succinctly who your target audience is.

Design inspiration is plentiful on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Houzz which caters to a home design demographic.  Through these viable social media outlets, we can promote our business, services and upload projects, testimonials and videos and most importantly beautiful images that make our work shine.

A site like Houzz, that caters to interior designers, home repair professionals, Contractors, and clients is a directory for those not only looking for inspiration but also Designers, Contractors, and other services for their space. Their testimonial sections also enable reviews to be posted which boosts a designer’s visibility on the site. Now with their partnership with Ivy, they have expanded their viewing base and are providing professionals with even more access on their platform.

A design firm can make tremendous gains with a strong social media platform and garner global exposure in a market that is saturated by many companies. It is how you use that tool that is important, showcasing your work on reputable sites that have a professional presence with the excitement of a beautiful aesthetic. Saturating the social media platform with your work should be carefully curated. Choosing images of projects that show a broad range of work is best, so that potential clients can see the scope of your services.

Clients are savvy about what they want and will do the research to find that perfect match in a designer for their home, office or retail space. Their goal is to receive excellent results for their space and the best clients are those that understand that quality design and products increase the budget sometimes but make their space have much more value in the end.

Social Media is a positive for professionals in the service industry, if used wisely it can boost business and give your company maximum exposure.

An Ode to Zaha Hadid: Design Innovator and Genius

Zaha Hadid

On March 31, 2016 the Architecture and Design world lost one of its most powerful and innovative voices, Zaha Hadid. In fact, society lost a great artist. Her sudden passing came as a shock that reeled through the Architecture community. Zaha was in the prime of her career, her most prolific period of her life with global recognition,  renowned projects, and the highest accolades.

I was deeply affected when I heard the news of her passing. Why now? What happened to one of my greatest inspirations and muses. As a woman Architect in a field dominated by men, Zaha clawed her way to the heights of success and esteem in the design field, with her boldness and strength and by her boundless imagination, technical skill, and vision. She shattered the glass ceiling for women Architects and Designers and then rebuilt it in her own way with her own unique vision.

The obstacles she faced in her career based on her gender seemed to propel her further. She used those struggles to forge her path without hesitation and gain the respect of her peers.

A designer without limitation, she created vast wonderlands of space with organic curves and influences of nature and a glimpse into what the future looked like through her eyes. She merged her culture and inspirations into her designs weaving artistic aspects with functionality. Whether it was residential, commercial, hospitality or public spaces, it is hard not to recognize the “Zaha” signature. This is what made her a legend and a force in the world of Architecture.

She will live through her structures, through her imagination and original vision and we as society are better for having had her on this earth.  She will remain an inspiration to women Architects and Designers all over the world, because of her tenacity and talent. Women in the industry will follow her lead, paving their own way to succeed in a profession that is challenging and demanding. As we remember her departure from the physical world, her spirit and creations live on and are loved and enjoyed by so many.

Rest in Power, Zaha, we miss you, but you will never be forgotten, your contributions to the world live through your designs.

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