Friday, June 14, 2013

master of none

One side benefit of practicing in Hong Kong is that I don't have to deal with a certain type of client that I saw all too often in the United States: the guy who thinks he's an architect, too.  Here people need only to look over my shoulder at the skyline to accept the truth of my profession.  Back home, aside from large cities, there is enough land to build horizontally instead of vertically.  An architecture or engineering degree isn't necessary to build a two story, ugly box that holds rooms, and somehow this fact means that many ugly box users and dwellers feel that slapping a "window treatment" suddenly makes them a designer.  Apparently those six and a half years of schooling weren't necessary.

When I interned at a small, residential firm in Texas I learned to appreciate my boss' patience and humor when confronted by would-be clients who fancied themselves to be architects and just needed him to "you know, draw my house in that architecture style for me."  Being the designers, they didn't see why they needed to pay him any more than you would pay a draftsman. Surprisingly (to them) he never accepted these types of projects.  There are probably a few designers who are willing to make an easy, menial paycheck by producing construction drawings of a deluded architect's dream house that's strangely got a labyrinth of dead end hallways or a cavernous living room that belongs in a hotel reception, but my boss wasn't that person. He actually cared that people lived in pleasant homes.

I had to stifle my amusement when I recently had dinner with a group of writers and they began to talk about the outrageous requests made to them, ranging from working in exchange for "a raised profile" instead of actual money, to being given extra duties on top of the writing as though the client didn't think that the writing was enough to deserve being payed.  For every person who thinks that he is a designer, there are apparently two people who think they are writers and can't see why they have to actually pay someone for their writing.

I wonder what other industries suffer similar behavior?  Do chefs get dismissed by amateur cooks?  Are there any musicians out there who have experience the same?

2 comments:

Gweipo said...

I think the worst person to be for that at the moment is teacher - when I see how people speak of and to teachers I am embarrassed to be a parent of school going children.
Parents with little or know knowledge except the latest parenting book, and only the experience of their own children and their 20-40 years ago schooling try to take over meetings with qualified educators who know the latest research and say stupid things like "I had corporal punishment and weekly tests and turned out ok" and you look at them and think "no you didn't, you arrogant prat"

architart said...

They must be shopping in very limited bookstores if they are finding parenting books that all say the same thing, especially if that thing is that beating down your kids will make them perform better.