Are Architects Welcome in The Edge?

I recently held a webinar to promote membership in The Edge. The topic was, “Building the Right-sized Firm” and at the end of the webinar I made a one-day-only offer to try membership in The Edge for one month for only $1.

After the event, I received an email from the managing director of a 20-person architectural firm. He said, “I assume your membership applies to architects as well?”

I replied that he had actually raised a fairly complex question that I have faced many times over the past fifteen years. Sure, a handful of architects have found their way into my conferences, and a few have even become members of my various coaching networks. And there are plenty of Edge members who have degrees in architecture, but precious few who are licensed, working architects.

What I have discovered over the years, and why I have not overtly marketed to architects (though I welcome them!) requires me to delve into some major stereotypes. But as we all know, stereotypes often become stereotypes for a reason—there’s truth to them.

The Differences Between Designers and Architects (Stereotypes included):

  • Architects are predominantly male; interior designers are predominantly female.
  • Architects love calculators and spreadsheets and are clearly “numbers people.” Interior designers, not so much.
  • Architects track their time to the minute and develop detailed time-billing and job cost reports. Interior designers often struggle to track time and report “losing” as much as 25% of their billable hours.
  • Architects consider labor to be a “direct cost”; most interior designers are better off to consider labor an “indirect cost.” (Long explanation which I’ll spare you here.)
  • Architects do not rely on purchasing and reselling merchandise; Interior designers often rely heavily on this as a core part of their business model;
  • ALL architects must be licensed by their states; SOME interior designers must be licensed and states vary on levels of licenses v. titles, etc.
  • Architects often coordinate their work with other degreed and licensed engineers including civil, structural, electrical etc. Interior designers spend more of their time with general contractors and various sub-contractors including electricians, carpenters, flooring installers, etc. (I guess we could say that architects are “designing” while interior designers are “getting designs done!“)
  • In the case of home renovation, many interior designers can do everything an architect does, though they may reach a point where a permit will still require the signature of a licensed architect.
  • I’ve always said that interior design is the most complex business model I’ve come across and, yes, it is more complex than that of an architectural firm.

Add to this the fact that in some states, there is political animosity between the architects and designers (such as in states where interior design accreditation actually falls under an architectural board of some sort) and it’s just never been a match made in heaven as far as my conferences and courses.

I have studied how architectural firms work for years, but it’s mostly to glean what I think is applicable to interior designers. If I were interested in the architectural model, I would begin a new and separate membership model.

None of this minimizes the importance of architects and designers collaborating to complete fabulous jobs, nor the importance of every interior designer having his or her “influencer network” of architects and builders.

Now I’ve answered the question. Feel free to weigh in if I’ve left something out.

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