Friday, November 30, 2007

27. Brand Your Self

Branding is one of the most important aspects of becoming a famous architect. A good branding strategy gives you a leg up on the Hobsian Battlefield.

What exactly is branding you ask?

It is your promise to your potential clients and others what to expect from you. It is based on how you perceive your self, really who you are, and want to be.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

* Delivers your design philosophy clearly
* Confirms your credibility
* Connects your target prospects emotionally
* Motivates potential clients & the public
* Creates a loyal following

The foundation of your brand is your mystique: Your architectural style or philosophy, the types of projects that you go after or attract, your persona, your presentation & publicity style, your clothes, signature, your glasses, your personal idiosyncrasies, everything. It extends to every aspect of you.

Defining your brand is like a journey of self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one?Are you the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people. Some will call you a genius others will hate you. Get used to it! Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target clients want and need you to be.

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages.

Star Architects are every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. Lets take a look at the grand daddy of them all: Le Corbusier. Here are some of the things that were consistent about him that created the Corbu Brand.

Clothing: The glasses, & the bow tie

Persona: intellectual, artistic, scientific

Logo Identity: signature, modular

Graphic Identity: cubist vocabulary

Philosophy & Architectural identity: machines, concrete, radical

Publicity Style: writing manifestos & books, lectures, power networking

To be a celebrity architect you must be a brand.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors -- or your colleagues. What would your colleagues or your clients say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait? NOT LE CORBUSIER'S

Ask yourself: What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?. Ask yourself: What do I do that I am most proud of? What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about? If you're going to be a brand, you've got to become relentlessly focused on what you do that adds value, that you're proud of, and most important, that you can shamelessly take credit for.

8. Develop a Mystique
9. Fight! Its a Hobbesian war
10. Pay attention to your glasses

Thursday, November 15, 2007

26. Fake It 'Til You Make It !

This is an open appeal to those of you who have gone on job interviews and said that you knew much more about .... lets say AutoCad, than you actually do. After you got the job, you went home with a book and studied the basics. When you went to work, you really learned how to do it on the job.

That's called faking it till you make it for beginners!

What I am saying here is to take this to a whole other level. To become the Famous Architect, you will need to create an illusion and mystique so grand that the whole world looking will believe you. You need to become a kind of a magician-al-a-con-man.

To illustrate my point, take a look at this clip from Catch Me if You Can. This is based on a real life magician-al-a-con-man.

His formula: Study the industry, learn all the lingo, the body language, the attitudes, all the trappings and outward appearances like an actor preparing for a role. Study, study, study and then put on the performance of a lifetime.

In this clip below, look at how he manages to communicate using "industry terms". Just marvelous!

An outsider listening to this conversation can not understand what the hell is going on. That's the point! you are in a club, and like any club or fraternity you have secret code language.

Compare this to famous architect Peter Eisenman. He uses a lot of "industry terms" Listen for catch words like "Radical", & "Disturbance".

These are big "industry terms" there are lots of them, study them and learn them.
If you cant find any more of these words in the dictionary, be creative, make some up or look realy deep into the dictionary for almost defunct words. As long as it sounds interesting and obscure it's fine. Peter Eisenman uses some like "interstitial" and "Canonical", learn those too.

After you have begun to master this game you will find that you are no longer faking it. This is because you have made it! You are left with two choices. You can either tell everyone how easy it is to climb up the ladder like a "monkey" or you tell them that a monkey has no brains and can not climb ladders. If you are a true "Hobsian Warrior" you will tell them that a monkey at a type writer will produce gibberish. Discourage, Discourage, Discourage: More space at the top for you.

In this next clip, notice how Eisenman immediately maintains control and dominance by positioning himself above the rest of the Jury. He looks at his nearest subordinate Professor Wolf Prix, and directs attacking questions to him. Prix was suddenly thrown in the position of defending his teaching methods; like a stuttering kid in front of his school teacher. Brilliant!

A big part of the illusion is creating a sense of authority. You talk down to people, yell if you have to. The Famous Architect lets everyone in the room knows who is in charge when he enters. Students are of the lowest rank and must be spoken to accordingly (if you have to speak to them at all). Notice how Eisenman speaks about the young architecture student, she is referred to as "the Student" and is not spoken to directly. She is spoken about in the third person case, as though she was not in the room and compared to a monkey.

If you keep people intimidated and on their heels, they will be too busy trying not to look stupid in front of you to question you!

This is a classic technique used by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie. Look at how he swindles doctors into submitting to his authority.

The real life Frank Abagnale was only 17 years old when he pulled this off. His actual formula was slightly different though. Instead of intimidation and redicule, he used charisma.

Frank used humor to cover the fact that he lacked the basic knowledge of a pediatrician. If he didn't know something or was asked an uncomfortable question, he would joke about it and skirt around the issue, often leaving the actual details of the work to other resident doctors. His wit and humor worked well for him. It successfully covered his ignorance, but at the same time also earned him a reputation as a jovial, if eccentric, doctor who was much liked by the hospital staff.

He used the same formula to become a lawyer. If he wanted to play the role of an architect, he easily could. So my dear architects, use what ever suits you, there is no shame in faking it.

Just be careful, but not too careful! When you follow this path look for the writings on the wall;"Peter Eisenman wuz Here!"

By Conrad Newel,
Staff writer
Liberating Minds Since August 2007

8. Develop a Mystique
17. Blow your own horn!
21. Get it Straight! Famous Architects are NOT Gods

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

25.Take a lesson from Paris Hilton

Interview: Alex Bogusky, an ad guy who definitely doesn't shy away from controversy.
He often touts a maxim: "Our basic philosophy is we're going to take a brand and make it famous."

Bogusky is chief creative officer of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a Miami- and Boulder, Colorado-based ad agency that has made a name for itself with its unique, irreverent style. Its portfolio includes TV spots like Volkswagen's "unpimp your ride" campaign as well as more unorthodox Internet campaigns like the Burger King faux tabloid drama about "The King" and his affair with model Brooke Burke. The magazine Creativity once called CP+B "the most polarizing ad agency on the planet." It has drawn big clients like Nike and Domino's but has also been savaged for its digital resurrection of the late popcorn icon Orville Redenbacher and for a commercial that featured a suicidal man who decided not to jump off a building after learning there are three Volkswagens priced under $17,000. The automaker later pulled the ad.

How do you take a brand and make it famous?

You start to think about the brand as a person and do some things to personify it a little bit. You can do things with a brand that are very playful and can exist in pop culture the same way that celebrities do. We wanted the Burger King to actually do things a real king would do. He dated Brooke Burke for a while. We actually had paparazzi photos of the two of them riding horses at the beach and at Lakers games. That stuff got leaked out and wound up in People magazine and InStyle.

Has there been a time when you watched a celebrity drama play out in the tabloids and then translated it into a commercial project?

(unlike some people see here) Paris Hilton is some sort of branding genius. She inspires me because of her constant reinvention and her ability to stay center stage without offering too much. People would be shocked to know how intelligent she is and how calculated everything she does is. Not only shocked--it would ruin her brand. If you believed it was all premeditated it wouldn't work.

Do you know her personally?

No. I've never talked to her about these things. They did an episode of her show in our agency a couple of years ago. I was too terrified to even approach her.

Celebrities gain fame by being controversial or provocative. Is that good for selling a product?

Celebrities are like that--they're polarizing. If you're not polarizing then you probably don't stand for anything and you don't have a very powerful brand.

Those "unpimp your ride" Volkswagen ads you did last year with Helga, the white leather-clad dominatrix frau, generated quite a bit of controversy.

I think it's a healthy sign. It tends to start off negative but end positive. Think about what pop culture is--it's kind of the leading edge of our culture and where we talk about where we're going next. If you're going to have something that really resonates in that conversation, it has to be on that leading edge [where] we haven't decided yet.

How does personifying a brand help the creative process?

It allows you to think about the story of the brand and the narrative of the brand in more of a longterm way. How does the conversation evolve? To me, Madonna is a genius in branding. There was very little difference between Madonna and Cyndi Lauper in that first year they broke on the scene. They both were like city girls with some of their underwear on the outside. Cyndi Lauper musically was great and really talented, but as those reinventions occurred she didn't keep pace with Madonna. Madonna was always able to evolve to keep people interested. Brands need to be that way too. They can't lose the essence of what they represent but they've got to continue to surprise and delight you.

Is failure to entertain the kiss of death?

I tend to not think about it as entertainment. You can't just entertain and slap a logo on it. The work you do has to be about what the brand is about. You have to be interesting and you have to be surprising--that tends to be entertaining.

Where do your best ideas come from?

I wish I knew. We tend not to trust too much in the "aha!" moments. Trust in the process and just keep churning it. It's not very glamorous like it might be in a movie about advertising. It's much more like mining. You've got lots of people doing their work, others culling through that work tying to find the gems. There's a lot of just dirt and a few gems.

In politics, we sometimes elect political candidates based on likeability more than capability. Will consumers choose a lesser product just because they prefer the personality of the brand?

Recently with Volkswagen we changed the name from the Golf back to the Rabbit and saw a really big increase in sales. We did some nice advertising, but I think the name change was probably a bigger deal than the advertising. You can have a relationship with a rabbit--it feels more like your buddy.

Is there a dark side to this focus on pop culture?

I was watching or reading something the other day about how we like faces to represent ideas. I don't remember which Roman emperor it was, but he realized that when the empire got so big he couldn't reach all corners they minted the coins with his face on it. That face became a very powerful symbol because we tend to be somewhat tribal still. With the advent of so much media, so many celebrities, and so many celebrity websites and magazines, those faces wind up meaning a lot. The problem is those aren't necessarily the people who should have all that meaning and responsibility...It gets dangerous, not so much right now, but as you continue to extrapolating it out--what does this become? Fame is what runs things. It is sort of concerning.

3. Use popular culture as your subject
7. If you've got "it" use it!
15. You have to work at it

From October 2007 By: Kermit Pattison , original title: "What Paris Hilton Can Teach You About Branding"

Sunday, November 4, 2007

24. Marry an Architect

WHEN Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio joined a team of architects to design a master plan for a temporary exposition on Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, the couple, husband and wife, soon discovered that they had a major disagreement with the others over a pavilion.

Ms. Diller and Mr. Scofidio wanted to build right on the water; the rest of the group thought it was too risky. In the end the couple splintered off from the team and developed a water-soluble structure — a swirl of fog, mist and water — that seemed to hover above the lake’s surface like a cloud. Their design carried the day.

“Ric’s and my typical alignment produces a power bloc,” Ms. Diller said.

While every married couple’s dynamic might be considered unique, Ms. Diller and Mr. Scofidio are representative of a broad trend of husband-and-wife collaboration that is changing the traditional definition of architecture partnerships.

The list of couples is growing, as architects break off from big firms to go into business with their spouses. Dan Wood and Amale Andraos. J. Meejin Yoon and Eric Höweler. Mimi Hoang and Eric Bunge. Diana Agrest and Mario Gandelsonas. Laura Briggs and Jonathan Knowles.

Like partners in any other architecture firm, married couples design together, make business decisions together, meet with developers as a team and travel to building sites in tandem. Interviews with some couples suggest that it can be tricky. There are the perceptions of the outside world to contend with: the idea that men are muscular masters of tectonics, and women, glorified interior decorators. There are the strains of heavy travel and long days while working and living together, and the potential for design arguments to escalate into marital power struggles.

But on the whole, married architects suggested, the married relationship is a plus for the architecture, allowing for an unsparing candor that takes the work to a higher level.

“We rely on critiquing each other to death, a kind of Ping-Pong,” said Ms. Andraos, who founded Work Architecture with Mr. Wood in 2002. “When we agree, we know that it’s good. “

She cited a space they designed for an exhibition last summer on Pier 40 on the Hudson about public spaces for recreation. Ms. Andraos thought of creating a sloping platform divided into five separate spaces: the Cultured City, the Fun City, the Healthy City, the Connected City and the 24-Hour City. Mr. Wood came up with what they called “the wiggle”: an undulating wall under the platform to define the spaces.

For budget reasons, the entire platform was deleted, leaving the wiggle exposed. She proposed making the wiggle out of fabric and hanging it; he suggested cuts in the fabric to create entrances and views; and then she suggested striping the fabric, with alternating panels for video and text. “This is really how we work,” Ms. Andraos said. “It is a back and forth where ideas don’t exclude each other in an either-or, with a winning scheme and a losing one, but rather where ideas build on each other to the point where one of them surfaces as the big one — almost taking the lead — allowing for the others to be nested within it.”

Yet Ms. Andraos, who at 34 is six years younger than her husband, admits that it took time to develop the confidence to assert herself as his professional peer. They met in 1998, when Mr. Wood was working for the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas at his Rotterdam headquarters; Ms. Andraos took a job there a year later. “I was more self-conscious at the beginning and more insecure,” she said. Today the two are so inextricably linked in their thinking that associates at their firm refer to them as “Danamale.”

Although Billie Tsien is now a major name, she has dealt with some traditional skepticism. She met her husband, Tod Williams, in 1977, when, fresh out of architecture school, she applied for a job at his firm. He was 11 years older, just coming off a divorce and playing the field. They started dating six months after she joined the firm. Both worried that as a result she would never be taken seriously.

“Of course that was a huge obstacle,” Mr. Williams remarked.

“And I don’t know that it’s totally overcome,” Ms. Tsien said.

And there are the stereotypes about men’s work and women’s work. “There are things people have preconceptions about that we permit to be reinforced or that we fight,” Mr. Williams said. “A perfect example is interiors. Personally I think I’m as good at fabrics as she is.”

Ms. Tsien is drawn to the more elegant silks and wool fabrics; Mr. Williams said he likes “the long hairy rugs that might at first glance seem to be a matted animal.” When they travel in India, Ms. Tsien homes in on the saris while Mr. Williams prefers old multicolored remnants.

“Sometimes a client may be more comfortable with Billie or me,” he added. “But absolutely know: If you want it built, it has to be both of us.”

Ms. Yoon and Mr. Höweler adopted the strategy of jointly running two firms to allow Ms. Yoon to carve out a separate identity. While they share credit as Höweler & Yoon Architecture, she takes on separate commissions through the aptly titled MY Studio — creating, for example, “White Noise White Light,” an interactive installation for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in which she inserted a luminous grid of flexible fiber-optic stalks into a public plaza at the base of the Acropolis.

“It is harder for a woman to get equal credit for her work in a husband-and-wife team,” Mr. Höweler said. “Oftentimes people just assume — particularly in academia — that the male partner runs the office while the female partner teaches.”

For the architect Denise Scott Brown, who wrote a stinging critique of sexism in the profession three decades ago, the recent advances of female architects are notable if negligible. She cited the rise of Zaha Hadid, who has reaped major commissions around the globe over the last 10 years, as an example of progress. Ms. Hadid is the only woman so far to take the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor (in 2004).

“They went for 23 years before finding a woman who fit their criteria for great architecture,” Ms. Brown said. “I think their criteria include being a man.”

Although she has collaborated with her husband, Robert Venturi, since 1960 on projects like the Seattle Art Museum, Philadelphia Orchestra Hall and the influential book “Learning From Las Vegas” (1972), Ms. Brown had to stand by as he was singly awarded the Pritzker in 1991.

Mr. Venturi “made a full-blown attempt to say this is not fair,” she said. But he did not turn the prize down.

“When you are the wife as well as the partner, people typecast you,” Ms. Brown said. “You are the handmaiden. Your husband is the design genius, and you’re allowed to be the preservationist or the planner — something less — and the notion that creativity can reside in two minds is impossible.”

To some women, going into business with a husband may seem like a regressive way to win parity in a field that remains largely dismissive of their sex. But Ms. Diller takes a philosophical view: “There were so few of us and it somehow fortified us, established a more acceptable context for us to practice. If I had been on my own, it probably would have been tougher.”

That is not to say it was easy for Ms. Diller to begin her career by collaborating with her husband. In 1975 she studied under Mr. Scofidio; he was about 40, she was 21. They started dating about a year later, moved in together in 1979 and became professional partners in 1981.

She worried at first about carving out her own turf and proving herself on her own terms, so she made a point of asserting herself. “I was very tied to authorship,” she said. “I wanted my thing to be my thing. It’s the same issue that made me uncomfortable about sharing a bed and sharing a bank account.”

Although she soon grew self-assured, the outside world was less quickly convinced. When the couple traveled to Japan on a project, for example, clients routinely addressed and deferred to Mr. Scofidio.

“I would start to pull back,” he said, “in order to make it clear she was also important.”

Today Ms. Diller tends to be the one who speaks publicly on their many prominent projects, including the redevelopment of Lincoln Center, the High Line project on the West Side of Manhattan and the new Institute of Contemporary Art on Boston’s waterfront.

“Liz is the intellectual engine and mouthpiece for the partnership,” said Mr. Höweler, who used to work for the couple. “Ric takes a more quiet, background role but also provides the stability and more of the technical detailing and fabricating know-how.”

What people often don’t grasp, couples say, is that there is no rigid division of labor in these partnerships. Each may tackle different elements of a project, but the crucial conceptual work results from a constant exchange. The project keeps evolving until it is hard to tell where one picked up and the other left off.

Ms. Hoang and Mr. Bunge, partners innArchitects, keep two blackboards in the dining area of their Flatiron district apartment so they can jump up from the dinner table to draw. At the young firm Obra, Pablo Castro describes his alliance with Jennifer Lee as “a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week architectural commando unit.”

They often discuss design strategy deep into the night “until one of us passes out in the middle of a sentence,” he said. “The next morning, as soon as she opens an eye, Jennifer can pick up and complete the thought without missing a beat while I struggle trying to remember what it was we were talking about.”

This approach served them well in competing in the P.S. 1/MoMA Young Architects Program, where their courtyard canopy of curved plywood shells and polypropylene mesh won a design competition last year.

Their differing backgrounds — for Mr. Castro, Argentine; for Ms. Lee, Korean — play subtly into the dynamic. When the two designed a friend’s house on Long Island, he said, she approached the project as “a collision of cultural propensities: Asian respect for tradition and veneration of one’s elders — hers and our friends — clashing with Latin American mistrust of authority and propensity toward disorder — me.”

The wry result was a crescent-shaped house that curves in on itself, “defining a center that is nonetheless empty,” he said.

Compromise — or at the very least sensitivity to the other’s design sensibility— can be vital in the smallest of projects. While Ms. Tsien and Mr. Williams have worked together successfully for more than 20 years on major projects like the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan and an expansion of the Phoenix Art Museum, it was a 40-foot-square bathroom in their own apartment that nearly caused a conflagration.

Mr. Williams always designs spaces with two ways out; he focuses on movement and doesn’t like feeling trapped. Ms. Tsien thinks of space itself as art and looks for places of refuge. They enclosed the tub on two sides to accommodate her and left it open to the living room on another side to satisfy him. At his initiative the shower stall has two access points, and Ms. Tsien embedded a square of Irish moss marble in the wall that she calls her own “private garden.”

A marriage frees up architects for this sort of productive conflict, couples say, given that they can dispense with the niceties and say what they really think. At the same time, Ms. Diller said, “if design partners had significant irreconcilable differences, it would lead to a professional split.”

Over the last two years Mr. Scofidio and Ms. Diller’s coupled template has been tested by the arrival of a new partner, Charles Renfro. Diller & Scofidio has become Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, appending a third voice with equal clout to their tight husband-and-wife alliance. “It’s kind of a couple and a gay guy,” Ms. Diller said.

“What used to be a symmetry based on a personal relationship is now an asymmetry,” she mused. “It created a destabilizing condition that is actually good for the work.”

From The New York Times on April 22, 2007 By ROBIN POGREBIN, original title: "Couples Who Build More Than Relationships"

5.Work for a Famous Architect
20. Unite and Conquer
16. Become your own clients

Saturday, November 3, 2007

23. Make your own big Break

Search all you want, there is no magic formula for fame and fortune.

The truth is, big breaks don't just happen; people make them happen--through hard work, networking, courage, passion and even pain. And as much as modern culture has glorified the notion of the "big break" ( American Idol, anyone?), lasting success has less to do with singular, transcendent moments than it does with incremental progress and unflagging grit.

"We romanticize the idea of a big break, but they aren't always this wonderful, positive thing," says David Dotlich, senior partner at Portland, Ore.-based Delta Executive Learning Center. "Sometimes it's [about] a big loss."

click on image for lager view

rather than wait for his big break, real estate mogul Larry Silverstein built his empire brick by brick. He began his career in the 1950s by converting a Manhattan industrial shack into an office building. "I didn't have a clue what I was doing in the beginning," he says. Indeed, it took myriad deals over five decades to get where Silverstein, 76, is today. "You have to stick with it," he says. He'll need every bit of that conviction to pull off his finale--rebuilding the World Trade Center site, into which he sunk $800 million the summer before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks

click on images below for lager view

No matter what, when lady luck comes knocking, you'd better be ready to pounce. Just ask rising actor Michael C. Hall. It took three years after graduating from New York University's Tisch School, but Hall got his break when he met director Sam Mendes at a musical workshop. At the time, Mendes was directing Cabaret on Broadway . When the actor playing the "emcee" stepped down, Mendes called Hall to try out for the role.

By that evening, Hall was practicing with the choreographer, and within days he was on Broadway. Hall has since landed cherry gigs on Dexter, airing on Showtime, and HBO's Six Feet Under. "With that job [in Cabaret], I felt like I crossed some sort of threshold," he says. "Everything that happened beyond that was in this realm I never considered."

Clearly, some industries are tougher to crack in a big way than others. In the entertainment industry, getting any job--no matter how small--is considered a break. "There are myths in our business about the actor who is discovered at the lunch counter," says Michael Taylor, chair of the vaunted film and television division at the University of Southern California. "What's more likely is a combination of luck, timing and who you know."

click on images below for lager view

Barbara Corcoran knows about spinning loss into opportunity.

The founder of The Corcoran Group, New York City's largest residential real estate agency, owes her rise to a painful event: breaking up with her boyfriend . Back in 1973, he lent her $1,000 to start a real estate agency , and took a 51% stake. Seven years later, he ran off with the company's secretary , ultimately giving her full control of the company.

"Thank God, or I never would have been in business on my own and learn I could stand on my own two feet,"

got the idea by now ?

Talent and tenacity notwithstanding, having the right friends helps, too--as pop star Mariah Carey can attest. While working as a backup singer for Puerto Rican performer Brenda Starr in 1988, Carey met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party. As a favor, Starr gave Carey's demo tape to Mattola. After a listen, he bolted back to the party to track Carey down and sign her on. Good move for everyone: Carey's first five singles hit the Billboard Hot 100.

Big breaks can also sneak up on you, even as the rest of the world seems to crumble. "A lot of times, people get their big break and they don't know they're having it," says Dotlich.

Take legendary talk show host David Letterman. The late-night funnyman broke into the business with a flop. After a string of guest appearances on second-tier sitcoms and game shows, Letterman landed a hosting gig for a comedy pilot called The Riddlers. The series was a bust, but Letterman got noticed by the higher-ups at The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He soon became a regular guest, and the rest, as they say, is history.

No, life isn't fair. But with a little effort, you can boost your odds.

by Maureen Farrell and Lisa LaMotta, original title: "How They Got Their Big Break"

15. You have to work at it