A colleague of mine recently returned from a long weekend holiday to Arizona. In their travels, she and her lover toured the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. I’m not an architecture nerd, so my knowledge of FLW is incomplete at best. I know very little about his actual work, other than how my mother — who actually is an architecture nerd — will never forgive him for the popularity of the split level ranch house and how it has “single-handedly ruined the neighborhood curb appeal of most of America.” In describing his Arizona winter home, the tour guide tells a story about a little red signature tile on the house. The lore goes that FLW would only put this signature red tile on projects where his architectural vision remained intact. That is, if his clients insisted he deviate from his design, then he’d still complete the project for them, but it wouldn’t get a red signature tile. I think this is a fantastic concept. It’s also a lesson for professional designers today. Do the work regardless of client fiddling, but reward those clients who respect your creative vision with a token of special appreciation.
Photo credit: Flickr user Rock Chalk Jayhawk Cartographer. Original here.
If you ever get a chance go to Palm Springs, California you will see the good, bad & ugly of “Ranch Style Homes”. I really doubt that you can blame FLW for all the bad knock offs that fill our neighborhoods.
Kinda like saying all the bad sports cars are Enzo’s fault.
The slightly slanted flat roofs, large sliding doors looking towards the back yard, open unobstructed open ceilings and family room/kitchen floor plans are quite appealing to me. As a matter of fact the I find that era of Frank’s work more appealing than his earlier stuff.
But to each his own, that’s what is so great about art.
Now as to “Client Fiddling” I don’t totally agree with “doing the work regardless” theory. I always tell clients this… “I’m not an art service, if you want that go to Kinkos”
I also don’t believe in tagging of the work but if that’s what floats your boat… then have at it. Once I’m paid that’s all I need. I personally don’t think many of us reach the FLW or Gehry or Saul Bass level.
Hope my thoughts don’t offend, RB
No offense taken. I wouldn’t presume to “tag” a website I’d built for a client or anything like that. That’s egotistical to say the least, and not what I’m talking about. What I will do from here out is go out of my way to express my appreciation when a client is great to work with. It’s not about me, it’s about how awesome they’ve been. It’s about finding some way to reward that relationship, not putting my name on their project. In the mean time, it has inspired a signature graphic, but that’s just for my stuff.
Aw, I understand.
I think it’s a great idea. It gives people a clue as to what a creative company or individual’s real work is. I’ve been involved in so many projects that started out so great, and eventually became something completely different because of client involvement. Often times this turned out for the worse, yes, but in some cases it turned out better. But even if the project turned out better, this tile wouldn’t be applied.
If I’m an egomaniac because I signal to the world ‘this is purely my work, and I’m proud of it’, then consider me labeled! :)
I know just what you mean. There are a lot of pieces in my portfolio that are shown not as they went to press or went live, but how I originally designed them — or even how I’ve redesigned them since. Collaboration is essential, but all too often a client will argue and insist on their own way with a professional designer in ways they’d never argue with their plumber or their pediatrician. This is, of course, endlessly frustrating only because we’re actually trying to help. I think a lot of factors explain this behavior, but that at its core is a misconception that design is purely subjective and that designers are simply creating to their own tastes. There’s so much more present in a professional designer’s expertise than simply having preference for one style or another. There’s formal education, personal learning, but more importantly the thousands of hours spent doing the work over the years. There are a lot of clients who get that, and I want to reward them when they show that respect.