Insights October 06, 2013

Small Projects, Big Responsibilities, Immense Satisfaction

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Small Projects, Big Responsibilities, Immense Satisfaction

There is something about the world in which we live which suggests bigger is better. Scale and magnitude, whether in terms of money, acclaim, scope, etc., immediately impress. Perhaps this latent social conditioning is the residual of alpha-dominance within the animal world. Whatever its source, size matters.

Many years ago, when I left the fold of a large, well-known design practice, I found that my ego found the decision the hardest. Suddenly, when I introduced myself to people, I was no longer met with an affirmation of my professional worth; no longer did people say with a mixture of recognition and admiration, “Oh, I’ve heard of that company.”

Over the course of time, working in other reasonably large and established practices, not only did my ego reduce but so did my awareness of professional responsibilities. I was part of a team and my role was defined more-or-less specifically in order to allow us as a group to be more efficient. Size suddenly demonstrated another inherent facet of itself: shelter and security.

Our decision to start a design consultancy was partly to allow us the opportunity of more fully embracing all aspects of a project: briefing, client relationships, professional obligations, management, and certainly design. In doing so, we realised that although our projects might be small, we nevertheless had big responsibilities. Our clients are often unfamiliar with the particulars of their own brief and what decisions they will need to take and by when; in short, our clients rely on us to guide them through the process and not just to deliver a project. Beyond this, we are ever encountering situations where advice is sought from us by not just our clients, but contractors, other professionals, and service providers. And as professionals ourselves, we have a duty of care that is crucial so that we offer sound guidance neither outstepping our bounds nor causing others harm. So setting out on our own required a real shift in broadening our roles not only as designers, but also professionals.

An unexpected positive outcome from this downshift in size has been the the upscaling of our satisfaction at the completion of a project. We are able to interact with our clients at the end of the process and experience first-hand their appreciation with our involvement. We are able to perceive that our own efforts have really made a difference.

We intend to share some specific encounters within our process of working on small projects in the hopes that it can not only help future clients appreciate our services but also to help our peers who might be going through the same transition as we once had.

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Collective Works are an architecture & design studio. Our network of professionals will create your perfect solution.