Think of it as a Hyundai around your wrist.

I love watches.  This is a fact known to anyone who has read my blog.  I have peppered these virtual pages with watches that I have wanted, admired or would sell my right hand for.  This watch may fit into the latter category.

Wrist watch, Hermes

Designed down to the smallest details.

Selling for a wallet draining $15,000 this watch is for those rich enough to have a person walk behind them telling the time.  None the less, even the filthy rich want to look good.

The watch is designed by French architect Marc Berthier (Visit his design firm here). The watch has a very masculine square face, a titanium case and AR-coated sapphire crystal as well as a rear window to view the Swiss perfection.  It is resistance to 30 meters.

Back window to the Swiss design.

A very masculine watch

They say fashion should be aspirational.  I see this watch and totally understand that phrase.

I will be speaking at the Seattle AIA!

Please join me as I host the Seattle AIA Job Seekers meeting this Friday from 9:00 to 11:00 AM.  I will be leading a discussion on resumes, portfolios, interviewing, networking and the “strategic job market”.

The Seattle AIA office is located at 1911 1st Ave in Seattle and the cost is free.

You can learn more about the even and the AIA here.

This Post Has Nothing to do with Architecture.

I know!  It has been a (long) while since my last post.  Work is getting busy, a good thing, but I have missed sharing a bit of myself online.

So back to it.  And to refresh the blog I thought I would share something fun.

The kiddie Beard Bennie

So cute!

I do have a beard so I know how warm and comforting it can be on a cold Seattle day.  For those who chose to be less folliclly bold you can purchase a Beard Bennie here.

Does Your Firm Have a Jedi Council?

Definition: The Jedi Council was a group of twelve wise and powerful Jedi Masters elected to guide the Jedi Order.

I admit it.  I love Star Wars.  Well, at least the first three movies.  These movies had a strange and powerful influence over the boy I was in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  For whatever reason I can still recall specific details of the saga to this day, much to the chagrin of my family.

I believe the reason that the movies resonated with me, and everyone else, is that they were based on simple human truths.

As I have grown through my career of recruiting talent in the Architecture and Interior Design industry one of these “truths” has resonated with me, the idea of the Jedi Council.  Or to translate, a group of trusted and experienced firm employees who understand where a firm has been, where it is today and where it wants to go tomorrow.

I have seen several firms use this model to great success, specifically around business development and hiring talent into the organization.  But how does a firm build a Council and what is the best way to put it to work for your firm?

Building Your Firm’s Council

You will want to fill your firm’s Council with a mix of firm leadership and developing individual contributors.  By balancing these two levels within the group the Council can become aspirational, an appealing growth opportunity for the high bar talent in your firm.  Some firms I have worked with have made membership on the Council a rotational appointment and a qualifier for those on track to Principal.

All members of the Council must understand your firm’s core values and be able to speak about your firm’s value proposition (value=benefit-cost).  They should also have an understanding of where your firm has been, how it has grown and how it defines its self in the market.

It is also important for members of the Council to be involved with relevant organizations outside of the firm.  Successful Councils can function as outward public relations tools.

How to Use Your Council

Of course the Council can support a firm in limitless ways.  As mentioned above the group can be aspirational or a needed rotation as you develop talent within your firm.

Two uses I want to discuss here are public relations and recruiting.

The first, public relations, is an outward focus for the group.  Members of the Council should also be active participants in groups like the AIA, IIDA and others.  Leveraging those memberships and connections can be a great way to educate potential clients and the industry at large on the expertise of your firm.  This can be done through presentations, panel discussion participation and white papers.  By having this group, in conjunction with marketing and PR, be the “voice” of your firm it will also position your employees, and in turn your firm, as the go-to experts in the field.

Another way this type of council can be beneficial is in evaluating talent.  This is an inward focus for the council.

First let’s discuss the benefits of the firm on candidate evaluation.  Because the Council is made up of employees that understand your firm’s core values and are able to speak about your firm’s value proposition (value=benefit-cost).  Members have a unique perspective on how a candidate will meet the specific position need.

Also, through this understanding, the Council can evaluate the higher level fit with the firm from a semi-detached point of view.  Is the candidate biased for action?  Can the candidate deal with ambiguity?  Has the candidate effectively demonstrated the ability to work within a team or influence with out authority?  These questions that speak to the over all firm fit should be part of what the council asks in the interview process.

Second, the Council should be selling the firm in the interview process.  The perspective the Council members bring can greatly influence and motivate candidates when interviewing.  In chorus with the rest of the interviewing team the Council member should be tasked with “selling” the firm.  They can also lend a more in-depth look into firm’s goals and how the candidate might fit into those goals.

The great thing about the Jedi Council idea is that it is scalable and can work in any firm regardless of size, specialty, market share or location.  The most exciting aspect of the Council idea is the way it can transform a firm into a knowledge and market leader through active participation in the industry and by evaluating talent, ensuring each hire is the right hire.

New! Hip! Wal-Mart!

Last week I attended an interesting event hosted by the Seattle chapter of The Retail Design Institute.  The event was about emerging design trends in retail.  Alison Embry Medina, Executive Editor of DDI Magazine, lead the discussion that was held at the beautiful NBBJ headquarters here in Seattle.

The presentation was fantastic.  Alison was very informative, educational and fun.  Some of the trends she illustrated for us were: Raw, Collage, Sleek & Sculpture, Geometry Revisited, Nesting and Filigree & Lace.  Each trend was very unique and fresh.    Raw, natural or reclaimed materials, not only speaks to the “green” movement but also allows for the history of a space to come through.  Many of the Raw spaces were old pubs, clubs or even laundromats.  Geometry Revisited is the use of shapes to create an experience or focal point, for instance:

retail, design, trends

While the new trends are exciting, and the reason we were all there to meet and listen to Alison, the biggest take away for me was how cool Wal-Mart is getting.

No.  That was not a typo.

Now to clarify; compared to a Barney’s Holiday window Wal-Mart is still on the conservative side of the spectrum.  However, Wal-Mart is really taking a very interesting approach to the store experience.  The most notable and commented on was the liberal use of skylights in the space.  Each store seemed to be flooded with natural light.  Of course the correlation between sunlight and sales is well documented.  The influence of natural light on the mood of the buyer is so positive even Seattle has outdoor shopping.

Wal-Mart is also creating small vignettes in the store.  These areas, taken from lucrative rack space, demonstrate creative ways to use Wal-Mart product.  I am sure this clever strategy has increased add-on sales considerably.  While not new to the industry I feel this is a great step forward for Wal-Mart.

“Honey, I went in for pillows but the bedding looked so nice, and the curtains matched so well, I had to buy it all!”

These vignettes are also being developed to be neighborhood specific.  A store that sells a great deal of wine might have a slick wine shop inviting customers in.

Another way that Wal-Mart is making a more inviting space is by simply curving end racks.  A simple curve out towards the customer creates a unique space that is unique and inviting.

It is no secret that retail has been hit very hard.  Many of my clients, colleagues and friends have had a very difficult 18 months.  While I would never wish the past year and a half on anyone, and hope we never see the likes of them again, these hardships have had a very interesting effect.  Creativity and courage to create retail spaces that truly transport us has increased.  Retailers are truly thinking outside the box to get us into their stores and it is very exciting to watch.

Falling In Love With Binary Code.

It’s sad really.  For the past year or so my heart has fallen for things that will never be developed, never know the touch of sunlight, the cool of rain.  Yes,  I am in love with Binary Code.

My newest love is the Ferrari 612 GTO Concept.  Sasha Selipanov’s concept is truly a thing of beauty.

Warning!  Viewing of the photos below may induce: Binary Code lust, drooling and  lack of focus on work (I know that’s were you are as you read this).

Ferrari, GTO

Drool worthy design on four wheels.

Ferrari, GTO, back

Ferrari GTO concept back angle.

I warned you.

Drink Cheerwine.

One of my favorite areas of the country is North Carolina.  There is something about the people, the natural beauty and the food that makes it feel like home.  Unfortunately North Carolina is a five  hour plane flight from Seattle.

Thankfully I can now get North Carolina sent to me.  Cheerwine is now sold over the internet!  If you have not had Cheerwine I suggest picking some up as soon as possible.  This is the quintessential southern soda.  The taste is cherry cola but to me it is much more.  It is the Fourth of July, Glow bugs, cool grass and Bar-B-Que all in one gulp.

Cheerwine from North Carolina

The best part? No HFCS.

As you can see, the best part of Cheerwine is that it is still made with real sugar, no high fructose death syrup.

A case of Cheerwine

Get a whole case for the picnic.

You can get Cheerwine here.

It is always the simplest ideas…

Simplicity.  It is what I find most interesting about modern design.  Take the Split Watch for example.  By simply twisting the watch 20 degrees on the band the watch is easier to read (for right-handed folks).

Enjoy the simplicity and don’t kick yourself too hard for not thinking of it first.

Watch, modern design, twist

Simple and elegant.

20 degree turn makes all the difference.

Simple

Ok, a Rolex post…but it’s a really cool Rolex.

It has happened to us all.  You are at a coffee shop, the theater or in the car and *tingle* you have been hit by a huge magnetic field.  Damn!  There goes my watch!

Worry no more.

Rolex Watch

Avoid Ferromagnetic fields!

The new Rolex Milgauss is incredibly resistant to magnetic fields.  How?  The watch is covered in ferromagnetic alloys that protect the watch plus the parachrom hairspring is made from paramagnetic alloys that leaving it unaffected by magnetic fields.  It is also ten time more resistant to shock.

Don’t take my word for it, the watch was confirmed to be magnetic field resistant and the CERN laboratory!  Falling into a black-hole never looked so good.

You can read all about the watch here here.

Robbing Peter…

Architect Magazine released their 2010 salary survey last week and as you can imagine 2009 was not a good year for the architecture industry. Firms of all sizes were in survival mode, doing what ever they could to stay afloat. No surprising, the most widely used tool was the lay-off. In fact, the Architect Magazine article quotes Kermit Baker, Chief Economist of the AIA: “Our estimates are that 25% of the positions at architectural firms were lost since the middle of 2008”.

Some of the highlights from the article are:

•  Median salary fell from $88,800.00 to $80,900.00
•  68% of the firms surveyed made changes of some sort last year
•  There was a slight increase in bonus’ correlating to smaller base salaries

Click here to read the article.

What I glean from the article is good news, the worst may be over. The industry is taking its cautious next steps. I also think it warns the industry of a bigger issue on the horizon, a looming possible mass exodus of talent from the architectural ranks. The article states that most of the lay-offs were concentrated in the lower salary spectrum. This young talent cannot wait forever for the industry to recover and will start to leave for greener pastures. If this happens, and a talent gap is created, it will be a blow to the industry not realized for another decade.

It will also be history repeating itself.

The recession of the 1990’s created a talent gap as young architectural talent left the industry due to lack of work. As the industry recovered, grew and thrived this talent gap became more obvious. While the work younger staff does, mainly drawings can be outsourced to other firms or even done by a Project Manager or Sr. Project Manager, the business development, client management and other “higher function” skills are unique to each firm.

As Project Managers promoted into the Associate and Principal roles the talent gap became evident. Firms did not have a strong pool of trained talent ready to promote into the Project Manager and Design Manager positions.

So what is the fix? While one fix does not fit all needs one idea might be the AIA. The group is uniquely poised to help firms fill the talent gap. Not through hiring but through training. The AIA’s continuing education program is a great forum to train the industry on firm management, business development and other important aspects of the business of architecture. I know that this is already a part of the wonderful curriculum the AIA puts together, I just wonder if there is a bigger idea there. Some way to either train leadership how to mentor and train younger staff or provide individual training to firms.

Of course this is just my opinion. I would love to hear others. Whether we are creating a new talent gap with this recession or not, we are still working through the last one. I know the attitude of the firm leaders I work with is “all ideas are welcome”.