The idea of launching a studio within the curtilage of your own home triggers visions of weeks of anxiety induced nightmares where your guests have an expectation to visit, take in and be inspired by an innovative and creative workspace along with sartorial elegance, exquisite hospitality and all round coolness. So the gauntlet was thrown down in early summer and the pressure was on for the team to deliver.
The reality of the run up to the event involved a fusion of insomnia with brief interludes of frantic dreams of standing next to an ill conceived and preposterous design that seemed like such a good idea at the time. This is without the endless deliveries of garden lighting and seating along with the epic mission of procuring plants, obsessive grass watering and back breaking landscaping essential to creating the ambience required for a late summer garden party.
The guests looked forward to the impending event with polite curiosity and excitement, anticipating a slick and glossy gathering with a clan of black clad creative types with an impressive array of avant-garde spectacles and over confident body language reminiscent of Lord Flashheart of Black Adder fame. On the other hand, the team nervously considered how to approach navigating the sea of guests without the usual set of drawings to hide behind or the armoury of steel toe capped boots, hard-hat and high visibility jacket.
Joking aside, the public face of any architectural practice should showcase all the key concepts associated with the idea of credibility. Buzzwords and phrases such as ‘social purpose, sustainability, inclusivity and creativity’ are often banded about as core values, but ultimately what we do is far simpler than that and is epitomized by the idea that architecture is about people and honesty. More specifically, it’s about the client and their needs and how we can help them make their vision become a reality. On a broader level, honesty feeds into all aspects of a practices ethos from the use of materials to the culture within the team.
So back to the story… our friends, clients and collaborators came to eat, drink and be merry and proved that architecture really is about connecting with people. The live music, Moroccan feast and mobile cocktail bar certainly helped but it was the laughter and warmth that really made the event a success. Another fascinating revelation that I would like to share is that the over confident body language of architects is not always due to aesthetic arrogance or bravado but a physical manifestation of the absolute truth that they are always the last ones standing.