Interviewed in the Architect's Newspaper yesterday, celebrated British architect David Adjaye responds candidly to some very direct questions about the financial troubles that his practice has faced, and is now recovering from. This is worth pointing out for two reasons.
It's great that he's willing to admit that things were difficult! So often in the design professions we do everything we can to keep a clean portfolio, a straight face, and an air of effortless accomplishment. But practitioners do fall down, they do make mistakes, and they do occasionally suffer because of it. The question is how you learn and recover from those challenges (and sometimes failures too). The more designers are actively sharing their experiences of both success and failure, the more we can collectively figure out ways to gracefully overcome challenges.
Secondly, it's great to see Adjaye reflecting on his own experience setting up his practice as a studio and a business. The world has changed a lot since the studio model of design education was developed in the 19th century: what should we do to bridge that gap? I'll let Adjaye address this question:
Schools are woefully unconnected to the idea of the profession being entrepreneurial. We were all graduating and trying to get into employment right away. This generation is very different, because they’re paying off their debts. In my day in London, it was still very much in the grant system. Your education wasn’t a noose around your neck in terms of repayment. It was almost like free, and you were very ready to take on the world and come into the world. There was more risk-taking.