Successful architecture and design firms all have one thing in common: a good reputation. In fact, a designers reputation is perhaps the most valuable currency the deal in. It is something that can build them towards bigger, better, more fruitful commissions, or force them into line with the other has-beens at the unemployment office.
There are a thousand different ways to garner a positive reputation as a designer among peers, clients, and the general public. The most effective way is to simply do good work, but sometimes even that isn’t enough to attract the ever-distracted eye of the 21st century human.
This article aims to explain just why an architect’s reputation is so essential, and how a steady stream of high-quality 3D visualizations can help is skyrocket. Not all design firms are large enough to carry a full-time visualization staff, but even if small firms find the right resources to bolster their online visual content strategy, the returns will be measured in more exposure and enough new work to pave the way for future success.
There weren’t many practical lessons to be learned about the business of architecture and design in school, but there’s one that has stuck with me all these years later: reputation is all you have. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you’ve earned the reputation of being a bull-headed, unreliable snake with the ethical sense of Mussolini, you might find a hard time finding clients.
On the other hand, you could be Mother Teresa herself, but if you can’t find ways to show people you can design and execute a job based on the given constraints, consider a career in writing self-help books.
When prospective clients are looking for architects, they want to hire someone they trust. This goes for any business dealing, but especially for something that puts such a large amount of money and social equity on the line. It is an important job, and an incredibly difficult one at that. Your reputation is the only thing you have to convince a client to trust you with their vision and their bank account.
I’m glad you asked. Visualization, rendering, and other flavors of audio-visual representation of your designs - built or unbuilt - are one of the most effective ways to prove people you are worth trusting as a designer. The should be descriptive, experiential, and able to convince the general public that your designs are worth taking note of.
For small, young, and inexperienced firms and professionals, having a collection of high-quality visualizations might be the only thing you have to make a name for yourself. Of course, built work will naturally follow, but in order to have that work constructed to align with the initial concept and vision, you’d better be able to explain it with more than a firm handshake and a wink.
In fact, visualization is about more than one or two pretty pictures. It is about communication, and as an architect or designer, communication comes in many different forms. You must communicate to the client what something will look like and how much it will cost. You must communicate to the builder which materials to use and how different elements come together. You must communicate to the general public that this new design will make their city a more pleasant place to live.
All these things require the right tools, the right visual aides, in order to best get the idea across. Transparency, honesty, and a handful of easy-to-understand visuals will build your reputation faster than just about anything else in your back pocket. Use visualization to grease those wheels and effectively open lines of communication.
Architecture and design are not easy professions to get into. Simply saying ‘do good work’ minimizes the effort put forth by the teams of talented individuals it requires to conjure and execute a sensible, on-budget, eco-friendly, visual interesting project. However, it’s the work, and the representation of the work, that are the key to running a successful practice.
And if you look in the mirror and see a designer who hasn’t quite earned their wings yet, fear not, for the work is the only way to get better at your job. Learn from the best, keep your head down, and understand that the next project will always be better than the last.
In the meantime, be sure that the visualizations are the best they can be. You might find the gaps in your understanding of design and construction can sometimes be filled with a convincing drawing, animation, or VR experience. Use that time to become a better designer, and sooner or later that grand reputation will follow.