Starting up Awesome

A blog about starting up an architectural business in sunny, crisis-ridden Italy



Jan '13 - Nov '13

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    Starting up "starting up"

    By bigness
    Jan 16, '13 3:11 PM EST


    This is a blog about starting up your own practice. From scratch. From nothing. From zero, with no trust-fund money, political connections or rich spouses.

    Well, this is actually a blog about ME (and my partner) starting MY OWN practice. But you get the picture.

    So, on with the presentations: I am Richard, 31, born in Italy of a British mother and raised between Italy and the UK (where I graduated in 2006). I then went on to work around the world for a few years (Asia, the Middele East, Europe...). I moved back to Italy in March: I got burned badly after a misjudged career choice, and found myself stuck in Paris with just one idea: "screw this, I'm gonna set up office or give this gig up completely". So moving back to the place where I had most non-architectural connections seemed like the logical choice.

    (Strange how when you travel and work around the world you tend to surround yourself mostly with other architects, which in turn tend to refuse to become your clients when you set up office)

    My business partner is Stefano, 30. Born and raised in the north-east of Italy, he graduated in 2010 in Trieste, but started working in practice full-time well before he finished. Kept on working for the same office for the last two years, when finally the working conditions* got the best of him and he decided to get a "proper" job in a "proper" company. A year or so later he realised he wanted to go back into Architecture, but saw little hope in the market.

     I took over his place in the architectural practice when he left it while I was looking around to get a feeling for the situation, so we have never worked together before. But when we talked he was the first person to show enough enthusiasm, drive and passion to seem trustworthy. And so, out of the blue, we decided to set up an office.


    It's really early days, Stefano is still working full time in a company, I am working on the practice while managing a few websites, we're looking for a place to stay while doing a competition and drawing up two proposals for two different projects, both public work... so it seemed a good time to start this blog, in order to describe the step by step process just as we find out what these steps are. 

    The location, Italy, is peculiar: some of the issues I will talk about will be specific to the country and its situation. But I believe most things will apply to anyone, anywhere.

    (a quick google image search will reveal the state of things. Try and find something built less than 200 years ago)


    Oh, and we are called Osom Architects. But more on that later.


    I hope you enjoy it. We are shitting our pants.





    * Italy is a weird place, and even more so if you are an architect. Work is scarce, offices badly run, the sheer number of young architects looking for work creates a situation where wages are super low (around 800 euros a month, after a few years of working for free), there are no career advancements (even the biggest offices have no managerial structure to speak of) and simply no opportunities for growth. But we do have incredibly good wine, food and motorbikes, so it's hard to leave.


    • vado retro

      in boca al lupo! I'll be looking forward to your posts!

      Jan 16, 13 7:42 pm  · 

      Look forward to hearing about your progress! I feel that there are many young architects in this type of situation.  Good luck! 

      Jan 22, 13 2:56 pm  · 

      You know if you hadn't tried it you would always wish you had!  Best of Luck!

      Best advice I can make is socially become good friends with a Banker, they are always good to have in your corner.  Become friends with a Good Contractor,  these guys can always feed you bread and butter contracts.  Become friends with an accountant , as they can help guide you thru the financial aspects of the money end of a practice.

      Jan 23, 13 8:38 am  · 

      Just found your blog, too bad you haven't kept it up. Good material here. It would be fun to talk sometime.

      Sep 20, 13 10:41 pm  · 

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About this Blog

Starting up your own practice is often something you only dream of... what if one day you woke up and realized that you really had no other option? Young, determined, absolutely pennyless and without much of a clue, these are the chronicles of Richard and Stefano trying to start their dream practice: Osom Architects.

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  • bigness

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