A few months ago, I bought a couple of fabulous apartments off the plan.
I had been searching for several years in an upmarket suburb of Melbourne. My brief was for a small development which was well designed of no more than 10 to 12 homes, and when an option arose within an affordable price bracket and in a good location, I was thrilled.
As the project neared the start date, I met with the architect who had designed my new home and investment property. She had a reasonably large practice and we spent an hour discussing some additions I required. She understood me and I got what I wanted easily and quickly, yet I walked out of her office feeling flat. I mentioned I came from an architectural family in NZ and told her I wanted a home that was well designed, had warmth and good energy. As a business coach, I hoped that she would tell me her story about the design conception for the project and why she chose certain fixtures and fittings and more.
But she didn’t. We had time within that hour for her to connect more fully with me, but she seemed businesslike and structured. I wanted to know more about the person who was going to be responsible for my next home, and wondered whether she was an introvert who found it hard to open up to clients or whether she was just in production mode, wanting to get the meeting finalized and send me on my way. Was she, as many women in most careers do, trying to embrace the “boys’ club” way of doing business instead of trusting in herself?
I have a coaching client who is an architect, and she is the exact opposite. She is a woman who lives and breathes her story. Her designs come from within. Yes, she does development work, but with a sense of not selling out to the developer, which is often hard. She says it is important for her and her team to connect with clients, to create buildings and homes that are ‘havens.’ She works for a smaller operation, but her compensation is likely in the same range as my less-involved architect.
So what’s stopping architects from connecting more fully with clients, sharing some of their story? Yes, they are in a business that needs to be financially stable and able to carry staff costs, but how about having the confidence and sense of self belief about who they are, what they do and how they do it? A home is the most important part of a person’s life – one where they will move through great highs and shocking lows. It needs to reflect its creator, the architect. I will make my new home special, but I will feel very removed from the architect who conceived the development.
In a larger organization, it can be hard to be personal, especially if a developer is on your back, but it is up to architects to stand up to those developers.
Many architects need to develop their people skills more effectively. Be prepared to get out of the refined area of design; talk to your clients and tell your story. Creatives have wonderful life tales that many people will never ever enter. From this curiosity and opening the door to the world of significant design, new connections arise, and people refer and introduce architects onwards.
How about developing your story and your team, and moving this personal connection further into your brand? You may be surprised at how this helps you create ever more deeply satisfying buildings and homes.