Peter’s Perspective | Get Their Message

Whether it’s a hardback book or smart social media, our columnists says top architects know how to get their message across…

So Clerkenwell-based architects Wilkinson Eyre have a book about their work about to be published. Not much surprise there. Architects have more books published about themselves than any other professional group. It was a trend started by the great Italian architect Palladio in the 16th century – a serial publisher of his own work.

In the 20th century Le Corbusier was one of the most accomplished publicists of his era; he had some 72 books produced about his oeuvre and ideas. Norman Foster and his practice are running a bit behind with just over 60 volumes. Most practices, of course, get along with one or two books about their work: it makes a good ‘portfolio’ of projects with which to impress potential clients and employees, as well as making you feel good.

It also doesn’t feel like ‘sales and marketing’, a key business tool which makes a lot of designers uncomfortable. But good communications are essential for success. Architects need clients if they are to express their skills, and if clients don’t know you exist they won’t commission you. I’ve been watching firms succeed and fail for the last 40 years and note that all the top firms know how to get their message across – Fosters, Rogers, Farrell, Grimshaw, Hopkins, Hadid, AHMM and, of course, Wilkinson Eyre.

Until a decade ago, a printed brochure was the way most architects publicised their skills, but that’s all changed with digital printing, the internet and social media. Anyone looking for an architect these days will start with a web search. I recently went to the launch in St James’s Crypt of the Architects’ Republic website, which helps people in need of an architect. Choosing a consultant is a bit like dating – and, like dating, the internet is an effective way of getting the right one.

Peter Murray is Chairman of NLA: London’s Centre for the Built Environment