is this allowed?


I'm working at Interior Architecture firm in Sydney Australia,

and I was told to find some place to put our logo and a phrase "design by [company name]"

My colleagues and I felt uncomfortable with this, thinking this would bring our reputation down, making us look "needy". And we came to think, that no one has ever seen any interior designers or architects advertising themselves in any of the decent restaurants and cafes that they have worked on the premise.

One of my colleague thinks it should be illegal to do that, and since no one's doing it why should we? It feels very degrading. We all think, only way to convince our director is to tell her it is illegal, but we can't find it anywhere where it says it is illegal to do that.

Anyone have any idea on this?

Nov 8, 12 10:50 pm

i have a possible idea what your question is, but it's really poorly worded.

1. is your boss telling you to make a signboard to put on a job during construction?  cause that happens all the time

2. is it after the project is done?  cause that happens sometime, but not as much.

3. do you like your job?  cause the way your company pays for you is by getting new work...if you're not bringing anything into the company in terms of money then you and your coworkers should just make the sign so your company can bring in new work...i mean who really cares how it 'possibly' makes you look???

Nov 8, 12 11:13 pm

how the hell is that illegal?

"getting work" is too degrading, apparently.  we're too good for that in this profession.

Nov 9, 12 1:09 am

As long as people are walking around with Tommy Hilfiger or Juicy Couture splashed across their bodies then why not slap the designer's name on the facade of a building?  Total branding (or total subservience, like whatever, it's cool).  Prbably you should show your commitment to the firm by getting the logo tattooed somewhere visible on your arm, shoulder, head, etc.

Definitely tacky, but it might work for some, yo!

Nov 9, 12 9:35 am

Architects really are afraid of success...and turning a profit. 

Nov 9, 12 9:50 am

how is this different from the typical cornerstone or bronze plaque that identifies those involved in the making of a building? there's a long tradition for that. this just sounds less expensive. 

Nov 9, 12 10:10 am

Sounds like advertising to me.  I don't see the big deal.  Why would that be illegal?  Maybe this dumb attitude is why our industry is in the shitter.

Nov 9, 12 10:16 am

I've often wondered why firms don't bother to do this anymore.  It is GREAT advertising.  Why on earth shouldn't our name be connected with what we've designed?  Turn over any chair in your house or office and you'll find the name of the company that made it underneath.  In the US, many sidewalks carry the ingrained stamp of the concrete company that laid them.   As Steven Ward noted, historically this was done for buildings all the time - it's why you see the architect's name carved into so many cornerstones and featured on building plaques.  Most notably, Frank Lloyd Wright was famous for the signed red square logo he prominently  affixed to many of his buildings.  That ingenious idea helped feed into his stature and popularity.  You should be proud of your work - your work is what helps you get more work.  So to me it absolutely makes sense to let people know who you are.  Why would you want to hide that?  Why would you want to deny yourself an opportunity to get good business?  The people who come to you because they've seen a building of yours that they like are likely to be more informed, and thus better, clients (at least in the conceptual phase of design).  

Also, in no universe could this possibly be illegal.  However, you (of course) would need to get owner's permission.  They own the building, not you.  

But you should be proud of the chance to control the way this statement looks.  By giving you the task of designing the sign, your boss is showing s/he trusts you with the company's graphic reputation.  So, get out there and do a good job of it.  And stop assuming that you know better than the people that run your company.  Anyone who thinks that advertisement of services is a debasement of business has absolutely no clue how to run a business.  You'd do better to watch your bosses and learn how they bring work in the doors - because an architect with no work isn't much of an architect, as you'll soon learn if you keep up this attitude once you're on your own.  

You may think that architecture is somehow exempt from the regular rules of how business works, but it isn't.  It works, or fails to work, just like any other business does.

Nov 9, 12 11:14 am

That said, of course, building signage, if embarked on, should be designed well... I would hate as much as anyone to see a bunch of crass, tacky nameplates littering every building.  But there's no reason it couldn't be designed well.


I do think that if more of us did this, it would help contribute to a greater sensitivity on the part of the public towards architecture.  I cringe every time I see a building featured in a magazine - often with glowing words about the design - that never once mentions the architect's name.  And I see this ALL THE TIME.  The owner or developer is lauded at length for their "visionary" building, and the contractor usually gets a plug, but the architect is often wholly absent from the verbiage.  If you didn't know how building works, and the vast majority of people don't, you'd assume the owner went to the contractor and together they produced the building.  And guess what?  This is exactly what most people believe.  This is exactly why they often call up a contractor first, when they have a building project in mind.  If we were more willing to stand up for our buildings, and understand how publicity works, the public at large would eventually respond.

...but I digress.

Nov 9, 12 11:22 am
won and done williams

Tacky? Depends on how you do it. Whenever I see a firm slap its logo on a powerpoint template I think "corporate schlock" - definitely tacky. Construction signage? Fine, conventional, nothing wrong with it. Building signage? Takes balls and you have to be good enough for people to care. Rem and Zaha might be able to do it. Joe Blow and Associates, probably not. We partnered with a firm that put its principal wearing a cape on the cover of its construction documents. It was way over the top...and it worked in sort of a silly way!

Nov 9, 12 11:33 am

I think the reason that we don't see cornerstone much any more is because most contemparary buildings are either total shit (and who'd want to claim responsibility for that?) or they are iconic buildings done in a heavy idiom by iconic star architects (anybody that'd care to know Gehry or Zaha building can probably just recognize it on site [pun intended] by its style).

I think that there is also something different in the way the firms are organized and named in this era versus earlier times.  In the olde days of FLW, it was your firm and you put your name on it and on your buildings.  That is you grabbed the responsibility by the balls.  Today, most architects are already semi-hiding behind corporate legalese and a variety of naming tactics:   alphabet soups like SOM, HOK, etc; concepts such as Morphosis, Snohetta, Asymptote ; or some combination of both, SHoP, BIG, OMA and so on

Maybe in a different, more collaborative era where architects quietly exist in blurry, indistinct  partnerships there is simply no need to make any claims on ownership.


Nov 9, 12 12:30 pm

Agreed, but there's no reason that today's collaborative era couldn't be represented in a nicely designed plate.  For example, I recently stayed in an apartment building in Portugal that had a nice little plaque to the side of the entry gate (visible, but unobtrusive) listing the design firm's name, the developer's name, the engineering firm's name, and the contractor's name.  When I remarked on it, our host was surprised that I was surprised by it.  Apparently that is fairly common to see in Portugal - a country, by the way, with a much, much higher level of design awareness among the public.

I thought it was gutsy but my host had barely even noticed it.  I think many times we architects are too timid. 

Yes in my personal opinion there's loads of shlock buildings being built in the states that I personally wouldn't want my name on, but presumably most of the architects who designed them are proud of them.  If it's just something you're doing to pay the bills, you don't have to put your name on it.  But frankly I think we all could stand to be a little prouder of our work.  We tend to see nothing but flaws everywhere but maybe we should focus a little more on what we're doing right, and let ourselves show off a bit.  No sense in not capitalizing on your strengths!

Nov 9, 12 1:26 pm

Think of it this way:

Imagine you are John Q. Member-of-the-public.  You go into the library to drop off your books.  In the lobby your eyes register a little plaque with design/construction teams' names on it.  In the lobby of your office building, same thing.  Maybe you go out for after-work drinks and the fancy new bar downtown.  In the back hallway you see a little plaque noting the names.  After enough of this, you'll eventually absorb the understand that buildings = design + construction, and architects are an indispensible part of that.  (Not just: "buildings are built by contractors and engineers".)  We've all talked about how no one ever knows what we do.  This could be a small step towards greater design sensibility amongst the public.

Nov 9, 12 1:31 pm

mantaray, that is a very good point!  I never thought of it that way.

Nov 9, 12 2:33 pm

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