been swamped doing proposals (green shoots in the air!) but fast company beat me to by next post, which was going to feature fuseproject, the industrial design firm headed by yves behar.
best quote: 'Where most design firms work for a fee and then part ways with their client, Fuseproject usually focuses on work with start-ups and takes an equity stake in whatever they work on. "I truly believe that’s the future of design," says Behar. "The traditional consulting model is broken."
(does that sound familiar to anyone on the archinect forums?)
the article out today builds upon an interview from 2008 that was, literally, a fundamental turning point in how i began to rethink practice. that interview, conducted with fuseproject's chief business strategist mitch pergola, laid out a 3 legged approach the company was taking towards diversifying revenues:
traditional design consulting fees
recurring royalties on products
a percentage stake in start ups they were working with
the model is so deceptively simple: items 1 and 2 above were what funded the business - they had to break even (at a minimum) and item 3 is what drove the long term profits for the founders/shareholders of fuseproject.
this isn't foreign territory for some architects but.... it just doesn't factor into the thinking of so many firms. and it's not something which can easily translate. in the profession, you rarely see item 2 (unless the firm is doing product design of some sort in addition to the main work) and if a firm's taking an equity stake in a project, it's usually a real estate play, something which can have more risk and/or difficulty getting into and out of.
what's vexed me over the past 3 years though is this: why, even with some of the issues outlined above, are more firms not looking at developing a similar 3 legged model? my full post will be looking into the 'why' that is.
unfortunately, that'll come next week. enjoy the articles in the meantime.
Central to the blog is a long running interest in how we construct practices that enable and promote the kind of work we are all most interested in. From how firms are run, structured, and constructed, the main focus will be on exploring, expanding and demystifying how firms operate. I’ll be interviewing different practices – from startups to nationally recognized firms, bringing to print at least one a month. Our focus will be connecting Archinect readers with the business of practice.