- holiday break + two, second snow day for the kids in a row
- did my first interview for my first legit article, scared but excited
- being a questioner, I didn't worry about having questions to ask
I interviewed the Guggenheims today for the article. Main points, take away more for me than for the article, but I think there was a purpose behind that. I think that opportunities are being put out there and from each one we take a way a nugget, a crumb that leads to the next. Sometimes its really evident that it's happening but many times it's not obvious & only when you look back can you piece it together.
Listening to Jenny and Jeff's origin story was them piecing together their evolution, I wanted it all to make sense and have it be part of a grand master plan, but they were very adamant that it wasn't a plan, that they were comfortable with not seeing the end game and ok with seeing where things would lead. When confronting a forced lay off Jenny saw only two options, either leave a field where there were no jobs available or start your own thing. After only 2.5 years out of school I would think there would be so much risk in not knowing enough, not understanding the business and not having the portfolio to draw clients to you - and I think there was that but time softens that and experience followed initial struggles. Bouyed by leads from family and friends that risk led to a year of firsts. At the end of that first year there was an opportunity to collaborate with G/S as an independent designer and work side by side with Jeff. Several projects later, Jenny noting a desire for more professional collaboration add to that Jeff's newly minted architect's license hatched an idea to go out on their own. Had they considered it previously? No. They worked together under the name Fig Studio until finally a rebranding was in order and Guggenheim Architecture Design was introduced. A core group of friends act as advisors every step pf the way. Much credit is given to supporters and people met along the way, seemingly everything is a long chain of events and relationship happenstance that leads you to today. Today, there is much work to be done. One full time employee and a hunt for another one currently under way.
The philosophy? A quest for interesting projects and clients. A balance between family and business. Creating friends out of clients and allowing the edges of professional and private to grey. Christmas cards are shared and the Instagram feed allows baby photos next to today's interior installation. An authentic blend of life and livelihood with no apologies. A new baby doesn't allow much professional networking so there is increased pressure on maintaining healthy relationships and aiming high. Jenny, responsible for crafting a holistic look & feel as creative director, defines these relationships as the main agent of success.
The strategy? There is a defined rigor and process for the documents. Jeff is responsible for maintaining a high level of detail knowledge and the technology used for production. Collaboration and teamwork is fundamental in crafting artful solutions and equal care is given to all scale of projects. When describing their current employee and their future employee, both Guggenheims celebrate the added potential of a new set of eyes and unique skills. They see their firm growing symbiotically with the resources of new collaborators and trusted repeat clients, an approach that precludes much formal marketing.
- run lean both in professional and private lives: cash only and no credit debt
- other firms aren't seen as competition, what are others doing well that could be incorporated or what should we avoid? continual learning process
- don't overthink or over plan, trust your instincts
- know your weaknesses and ask for help, last year's addition of an accountant has substantially benefited the firm in time & effort saved
- reach out for professional support and advice. along with the trusted group of advisors, Jenny finds insight in continual professional development and Jeff has found seasoned mentors through his role as co-chair of the AIA's small firm roundtable committee