MODERN PRACTICE SERIES Ep2 – Eponymous Architecture (continued)

MODERN PRACTICE SERIES Ep2 – Eponymous Architecture (continued)


20 years over four different firms I decided
to create Eponymous. And right at the moment it’s actually out of my own apartment where
we are now and and obviously I’m hoping that’s a temporary situation. So I located the office
in the bedroom so I could hide it away behind doors so I wouldn’t have to be looking at
my office all the time. So I have a pocket door here it’s a full height pocket door.
These are all Elfa the Elfa shelving system. So it would say you know so nicer line where
the shelves actually hide the brackets a little bit the desk is just a series of Ikea components
very inexpensive. You still have triangles in here? This is like; oh man! I don’t really
use the triangle admittedly. Just for show? It’s a pragmatic decision right now – financial
– but also as I just get my feet under me and to decide whether or not long term this
is what I want to do before I start investing heavily. I had done some work with people
directly you know as moonlighting work which I know a lot of firms look down on but I would
always be doing the work on my own time in my own space I didn’t ever use office resources
but everyone’s got their issues with why they don’t want to allow that. But I was doing
some work and I started to enjoy the ability to work directly with clients, specifically
the idea that there’s not an additional filter beyond me so you sit with a client and you
work through ideas and you decide come to decisions and there’s not this other person
that you have to leave the office meet the meeting to go to get approval or clarity.
I’ve come to learn that cuts both ways there’s something nice about another voice or a kind
of a check if you will which is why ultimately I want to bring other people into Eponymous
I don’t want it to be just me the, the, the spirit of starting this in go down was not
just to be on my own there is a real value to being able to collaborate with people.
I had a referral from a previous client that was looking to buy a townhouse here in Brooklyn
and was going to gut renovate the whole interior. For me this would have been I’d done some
projects like that before but that would been on a scale unlike the other projects and I
used this project as an opportunity to say you know this is now I’m going to try to do
it on my own. I was actually in the middle of a project the timing was not great for
me to leave but I just you know I kind of knew that what was gonna happen in the project
go in destruction I would see it through construction then there’d be another project similar to
that one. You know for it to break that chain that this opportunity came up and I said okay
I’m gonna take this and what was amazing is that again it’s gonna be different for everyone
is that once I went on my own you know through whatever reason some people start hearing.
It could be as simple as someone called the office asking for me and they say, “Oh he
no longer works here,” it’s funny because while you’re working at a firm you know I
don’t think people will consider you for projects because of that but then the minute they realize
that you’re not in a firm anymore that you’re on your own you know all of a sudden got an
opportunity that they may not have considered you for. So ironically right after leaving
all these opportunities started coming up that just because people happen to hear that
I was now on my own and I didn’t even really even tell anyone it just was all word-of-mouth.
Because I for me I was trying to do a slow burn to start I had said okay I’m a project
I’m gonna establish my firm get this and all of a sudden other people are contacting me
so I wasn’t really looking to reach out and seek more work so I didn’t want to as a practice,
practice of one, had to be very careful about workload. So I started on this project and
it was enough for me to kind of the, the, commission for this project was enough to
make me feel comfortable in terms of workload and finances and you know I also knew I had
saved some money and I felt like I could break even for the first year and I’d be okay. I
had enough information to allow me to make the decision to go on my own. So I’m trying
to keep it kit simple but you know making sure I have the programs that I need right
yeah I used to be on Vectorworks and I just transferred over to AutoCAD LT and Sketchup
as well for modeling InDesign and Acrobat Reader Photoshop Microsoft Office suite. I’ve
just never really been a fan of tower units and so I also thought it just kept the space
more clear down below and it’s just been it’s just I just know that the monitors being so
big it just works out well. The printer is an inkjet so I can do obviously black white
and color its sized to do up to 18 inch wide sheets. I do all my sheets full-sized sheets
at 22 by 34 and so when I print 11 by 17 they’re at exactly 50%. So I do have local print shops
I use when necessary but in general I can do half size sets and they’ll be out scale.
Then I do have this open space here which is obviously my dining table but it’s also
just an open table in which when I print something here I’ll come and sketch. I also like the
idea that when I’m in that smaller alcove and drawing on the computer it’s kind of one
mind set you’re in and then I can leave that space and come here and then it’s just a more
open space with a more you know you can really stretch out and it just feels like you can
then be a little bit more creative and you’re just kind of for me it just transitions me
myself into a slightly different work mode. Also simple things like materials you know
as I started to build my own library it’s nice to use this larger format table to just
lay out materials and actually start creating compositions of palettes and again I think
that would be hard to do when space is somewhat limited. One day you’re at an office the next
day you wake up and you’re in your apartment and that apartment in my case is also my office
and the work for me was a natural flow I would work like I would anywhere else if anything
I actually would be able to get my hands dirty again doing a lot of drawing that I wasn’t
doing in the other offices because I was doing a lot of management so now all of a sudden
I’m getting back into the real practice of architecture which was nice. You know not
having co-workers anymore it was something that I thought would be okay but it actually
was a more of a struggle. Just kind of psychologically and emotionally to be kind of isolated by
yourself was tough even though I’ve been able to create alcoves of space it’s still blurring
for me the idea of an a residential space that’s about recreation and an office which
is about kind of working and that line gets blurred to the point where it’s you could
be doing both at any given time and it can get you know you can get to a point where
you feel like you’re working all the time. Coming home to my apartment is not the sense
of release that it’s like a removal from work because it is work too and so for me it’s
hard to to make that split. One of the challenges has been when you’re in an office of one how
you build the workflow. So there’s the benefit is that I know that I’m the only mouth I need
to feed right so I I can have a very quick grasp of the amount of revenue I need to generate.
You have to be very careful on how you stack the work and you don’t always have a choice
in that obviously as we know; work can come in and it can go out. So you take on a project
and then you have to you know produce on that project but you also have to be thinking about
the next project. I’ve had a problem where projects come in on top of each other and
again when there’s no kind of other person to assist it can be a challenge. Currently
all my work has been referral and and so yeah that that is a concern I have because I mean
that stuff can dry up at a moment’s notice. Aligning myself with interior designers can
be a help because sometimes they’re the first people clients will connect with. Because
I’m relying heavily on on referrals I’ve started to kind of foster relationships. For example
when I meet contractors I do like and I’ve worked with them with success I will say I
will get them in the mix and I’ve had a talked to a contractor and say, “I know someone
who’s looking for someone I think you’re a good fit I was gonna have them contact you”
I appreciate that thank you and they also will say sometimes you know I’ll let you know
sometimes people are looking for an architect. It’s it’s funny there’s always people looking
for good contractors good millworkers a good metal worker it could be anything. There was
a point where I was asked to do something where I was too much for me at the time because
I was still working full-time so I actually referred it to another architect that someone
I used to work with who had gone out of his own and oddly enough you know he’s gotten
busy to the point where he doesn’t like some of the smaller residential work so he’s actually
kicking working my way. So it’s it’s funny that I’m actually even getting referrals from
other architects because it’s work that’s not in their wheelhouse. When I started my
own office I realize I needed to start a material library. I need to use these samples as a
way to decide on the palettes that feel right so I can start juxtaposing different textures
and materials and palettes and feel see what feels right for the space and once you get
to that point you can then physically bring those samples to the client and show them.
What I’ve decided to do is I’ve gotten small samples as much as possible so I’ve slowly
created a collection of samples that I feel I mean right now it’s really tight because
I’m doing residential work so there’s specific things that I’ve come to like at my previous
offices and I know that I’m gonna kind of tend to go to. I just bought a series of inexpensive
plastic bins and I’m just sorting them in those by material type. You don’t necessarily
need to have a vast library in New York particularly as you’re a young architect a lot of this
residential work at first can be renovations, interiors, as such the material palettes are
limited. They’re in you know I’m kind of limited at this point to specifying interior finishes
so that starts to kind of really focus in on what you need, so I don’t really need exterior
cladding samples yet so I’m hoping I don’t need windows samples and all these things
I mean eventually I will get there but for now it’s mostly interior finish samples like
stone wood metal etc. People bring their interest in interior environments that you know it’s
a product of their entire lives which is different than yours and so what’s interesting is that
you then get exposed to things you wouldn’t have thought to do. Pinterest becomes a way
for them to not be overly specific but starting giving me a sense of what they’re looking
for. The Pinterest boards then just become a default way in which you get exposed to
new things and I’ve actually done a couple of projects where I went into it a little
bit leery I’m like, I don’t know this is not really the material set I’m comfortable
with I haven’t really worked with it it’s a little bit you know strange to me. But you
you go there with the client and it actually at the end of the process you then go you
know that was actually rewarding. I’m finding that it’s developed I’m developing as an architect
because of the relationships with the clients for me I’m just learning you know you you
it could be anything for me in the residential world it could be the understanding how people
live in a way that’s different for me. I’m single I don’t have a family most of my clients
are usually starting families so you start learning how they live differently and and
you start gleaming interesting you know it could be a silly thing like you know putting
I do you think the master bedroom wants to be on the top floor of a townhouse but then
you start realizing the the benefits of putting the master bedroom below the kids rooms so
that there’s this idea that you can always monitor when they’re coming and going. And
you know and also the idea that the master bedroom is closer to living and there’s all
these interesting things that come out of these relationships that you would not have
always thought of. You could also then do it where you have the living room bay and
then you have the kids wing and then you end up in the master wing and they’re all like
three stepping. But the problem is it’s all single-story house and it’s I don’t think
it’s gonna fly. And then there were two bedrooms like one here and one here, something like
that but. At the flipside I’ve also then lost commissions because the client felt that without
having a family I wouldn’t be able to solve their problems. Which I think was unfortunate
because I don’t think that’s true at all. I think it’s our job to understand and listen
to a client to figure out how they live and I don’t think you necessarily need to live
the same life in fact I think it’s better sometimes that you don’t because you actually
will not fall into biases that you might have and you come into it completely open-minded.
Yeah the portfolio is an interesting piece of the whole, not only the career, but also
the the job search path. So the first jobs you get are based on an academic portfolio
I don’t even use the academic portfolio anymore for obvious reasons. You know the academic
portfolio was at least in my case it was fairly ambitious in terms of design was very aggressive
and modern and so forth right? And so, I kind of realized that if you were interested in
working for more aggressive or avant-garde design firms it sometimes made sense to maybe
do it out of school because it seemed like it might be aligned and there was always this
dilemma about when you went to out of school and then say you worked for a more conservative
office can you then go from a conservative office to and a kind of more of a avant-garde
design firm and and you know I’m sure it can happen because there’s roles in every office
for everyone but for me that was always a concern so what I’ve done is I’ve kind of
I I tried to get into the design firms early particularly with the academic portfolio because
I think it was less of a jump. But then I’ve, obviously the portfolio evolves then the portfolio
becomes built projects, right? Now your portfolio is about the types of projects you’ve worked
on so it’s a different animal. It’s you know it just becomes a collection of images at
that point. I feel like now the portfolio is really just a lot about the breadth of
your experience. So now I’ve amassed this portfolio of work across four different offices
and then the question becomes now that I’ve gone out on my own what do I do? Because though
those projects that previous offices are partly a byproduct of my contributing to them they’re
not my work in the sense that obviously it wasn’t my office and the design that is the
specific design threads that are there are the you know the creativity of those specific
partner you know business owners partners we have you. I’ve chosen to use only the work
I’ve done on my own and not bring in the work from previous offices and it’s unclear yet
if that will be successful. I’ve also started looking at it in two ways there’s the kind
of public presence which is what’s on the web and what’s available to people publicly
and so that is tailored to again my own work but if you can then get your foot in the door
and speak with a client I think at a more private one-on-one scale I have then no issue
with using previous work force I think you kind of have you have to to show the breadth
of your knowledge. But I’m trying to figure out if I can do it where I don’t use that
work to get the project but I can also use I can kind of use that work to kind of really
hook the client in the end and you know there’s other pragmatic reasons there’s obviously
legal things you have to think about in using other people’s work you have to have the rights
to the photographs you have to obviously ask your former bosses and it also depends on
the kind of terms in which you’ve left those offices and whether or not that’s something
you want to do. Some people like to make a point of showing that they’re independent
and they don’t need what they did there. I fortunately have not had any bridges I’ve
burned but I’ve also not really asked them I’ve never been in a position where I’ve asked
them to use it and see what their response would be. There’s a third concern I have which
is not that I’m kind of fishing in the same pond but once you start using the work of
these other people then it warrants the question of they could just go well then I’m just gonna
go hire that firm because that’s the work I like and so that’s why I’ve tried to tailor
the work to what I’ve done and what I’m trying to do in a limited capacity even in the limited
capacity it is rather than potentially using someone else’s design ideas that are not my
own that could maybe lead lead the client astray. When I started Eponymous I gave myself
a year. Financially the project I had gotten when I first started Eponymous and with whatever
money I had saved, I knew I could get through a year and I felt like I had to give myself
at least a year before I would either decide it was something that was right for me or
not right for me. So the first couple months were a struggle in turn again being isolated
and also feeling like the work was piling up and not sure and not clear how to do it
because you could no longer just manage the work and hand it out to people it all just
ended up coming back to you, I was questioning whether I wanted to if this was the right
thing but I again I, I went back to the fact I said I have to give myself a year because
there’s gonna be ebbs and flows in all this. And the idea that the 40-hour workweek doesn’t
have to be so structured is a process that I’m still learning because it’s so ingrained
it’s just what I’ve been how I’ve been practicing architecture for 20 years. If I’m not feeling
inspired to do work if my mind’s not in the right place to do it it’s a Tuesday I might
can go to a museum and try to just get yourself out of that rut. And conversely you could
also be like a Saturday in the afternoon and you have this epiphany and say wow that’s
a really interesting idea I want to explore it, and so the the idea that the work flow
can become just much more nebulous is something I’m exploring and seeing if that’s a benefit
of being on my own. The name is it’s a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek. Eponymous means
self-titled that the firm is it’s, the idea is that the firm is that specific project,
at that time, with those people.

76 thoughts on “MODERN PRACTICE SERIES Ep2 – Eponymous Architecture (continued)”

  • 30X40 Design Workshop says:

    Some resources if you're thinking of starting your own studio: http://thirtybyforty.com/architect-and-entrepreneur-resources/

  • Georgi Georgiev says:

    Thank you for doing this Eric! I've been following you for a while but have never decided to comment. These new series really resonate with me on a whole different level. Although I've never worked in a large firm, everything John is talking about you can relate to because I have experienced it at some point during my work practice. Really interesting and insightful!

  • Thank you-thank you-thank you Eric (and of course John)!, this resonates so much with my own experience right now except for the 'childless singledom' 😉 that's almost spooky..! I'm also approaching the first year on this "experiment" of starting my own firm, and soon facing BIG decisions… Thx!🙏

  • Undercover Architect says:

    Great to watch the rest of John's startup story. Wishing him the very best for longevity in his business, and great enjoyment too! Thanks to both him and to you, Eric, for providing this insider look at what a solo practice startup can look and feel like as an architect going out on your own. Looking forward to more industry stories like this one 🙂

  • Stuart Landrigan says:

    Excellent interview Eric. Having now 3 years of going down the path that John is talking, his comments resonate with me. Keep these videos coming.

  • Great video….to me this is real architecture, when you are working for a firm your creativity could be diluted as well as architectural soul…..it’s difficult to work by yourself because you also have those negative thoughts about your next project or potential clients….another difficult part is setting up your fee, the client want to save money too and they want to pay less because you are one man show or a freelancer more than a company for them or one mentality think I have to be affordable or charge less to really get the clients…. I also find difficult control your time, even if you are away of the computer you still working when you are watching a movie thinking and looking for a better solution… Sometimes I can't sleep because of that…..too much brainstorming.!!!

    This is the life of a contemporary renaissance solo architect.

  • Gerardo Arnaldo Moreira Ponce says:

    Gran video, al principio sólo veía los vídeos con el fin de entender más la arquitectura. Pero me he dado cuenta que cada vez más logro entender los diálogos en inglés. Felicitaciones a ambos por aventurarse a practicar la arquitectura por sus propios medios (estudio), este año me incorporo de arquitecto y quiero ganar experiencia talves un par de años para luego montar una pequeña oficina.

  • Beautifully produced video of an insight into a wonderful mans life, who continuously strives as an aspiring Architect. Excellent.

  • This new segment of your channel is amazing! It's very pleasant to watch and learn how different architects work and approach each new project! Congrats for this idea, Eric!

  • Great job Gents! Eric you have a real eye for cinematography! John congratulations on the first leap of faith! This is a great video showing the true journey of startup or at least in my experience. The small wins are the building blocks of success out here.

  • Salmane Nouari says:

    you never cease to surprise me by your work , great job for you Eric and a Great thanks to John he gave it all , thank you both , and good luck for you both , keep the good work going (y)

  • Thank you again for another great video. You deserve more subscribers Eric. I am a young architect just trying to find my niche in this industry and your videos always inspire me to be a better designer. Keep those good quality videos coming! Also, have you ever considered being a lecturer or maybe a professor someday? Your knowledge and experience is so helpful and inspirational.

  • This is great!!! Knowing about other people´s experience is invaluable. I think that specially in the architecture and design field there´s not enough information on how to start or run your own office, but this kind of videos and interviews help a lot. Thanks

  • Interesting to get hear the journey Eponymous had to go through to get to position they’re now. Fascinating stuff! Keep up the good creative learning videos Eric!

  • Love the series!! great job. Btw! you could get the new DJI gimble to get steady shots just by using one hand, and is very portable

  • Someonespecial says:

    Your videos really always help me a lot! Could you make one about how to prepare model designs for laser cutting?

  • Daniel Iván Zamarrón says:

    Excellent Eric, a lot of us architects that belong to X generation have some issues with having to work for other people, so is very nice to ear about practices like yours or John's, sort of an inspiration… thank's and keep up the good work.

  • Hi Eric.. I'm am freshly graduated architect..

    What is it that a firm can teach us before we start our own practice.. Is it still possible by doing my own projects and learning along the way.. It would be really helpful if you could make a vedio on this,

    Just one project from starting till the end in a schematic way, beginning from the process of sanctioning the drawings, execution, potential risks to be aware of, rights of an architect, architect client interaction, how u compose your work.

    Greatly inspired by your work.. I have watched all ur vedios and I can't thank you enough for that !! Cheers # gomakethings

  • LaArs hos LajoD says:

    … The first I have heard that goes from a reasonable bimtool with great illustration cap. and back to expensive autodesk app and a sketchup for 3d ..! why not do sketchup pro then.. and away from bim..! strange

  • Geriond Ramiere A. Asor says:

    Hey Nice Video, I want to be an Architect to when i grow up.Can you make Videos about Pencil,Eraser, and Ruler. Tnx! 😁😀😊

  • Covenant Contracting says:

    Eric, I'm not an architect but rather a carpenter/builder/GC. I stumbled across your chanel a little over a year ago and love it.
    I would like to see your process of interviewing clients. What your looking for in a client, questions you ask etc.
    Also, once your moving forward with a new client what's your prices from there? Such as do a site visit, gather survey information, looking for features of the project site such as views, water, sun exposure etc..
    Also, do you arrange things like site survey or have the client do it if they haven't done it yet? And by site survey I'm referring to more detail than a simple Plat map. More detailed topographical info with elevations etc.
    What are some things you give clients to work on? Do you suggest builders or do meet with the client chosen builder, and at what point in the process does this happen for you?

    You may have made some videos on these topics, if you have great, if not I would love to see them!

    Thanks and keep it up.

  • Hii sir, I am from India and commerce graduate
    But i am interested in the structure design i want to build a construction business
    So Can i be a good architect designer by your videos and practice…?

  • That was an excellent series Eric and good luck to John. I'm in a similar boat as John but I wish I'm as organised as he is. I noticed that you and John both use a combination of Autocad LT and Sketchup. I currently use Archicad for documentation. Do you recommend a combination of autocad LT and sketchup or do you think Archicad is sufficient enough. I just feel that Archicad is restrictive when it comes to detailing drawings or having custom unconventional detailing where Autocad or sketchup would strive in that aspect.

  • Hello Eric, getting out of the military at the age of 24 and looking to go to school for architecture. Starting to get worried about my age once I start practicing and how that will effect my career and any follow on dreams with architecture later down the road. Do you have any opinions on this?

  • cristy karen casquejo says:

    as i enter the real world even still not having the license, my apprenticeship and being a project supervisor of my own assigned projects really opened the real world to me.
    design process, legal matters, dealing with estimates, materials, use of everything, dealing with suppliers , transactions with clients, i was really overwhelmed with the world i have just entered and started asking questions to myself of what i really love.

    your videos, really encourage me to continue, i am literally thinking of finding another career now i am convinced that this phase is part of the process and that being lost and being unsatisfied is your creative mind trying to tell you that you have to open your world to more possibilities, because architecture is broad and almost everything that you dont have to spend your whole life facing the lines of a certain software. thank you

  • cristy karen casquejo says:

    i also had the same idea of learning another course which is business and trying to find myself in that world and i might connect it with architecture but with this hope i had and little inspiration even imagining myself that i would become an architect is impossible. i am happy that i have seen your honest videos and insights and it made me realize of my real things and events one has to experience.

  • When I watch videos like this, architect like Booth of you, I know that I am no the ríght path for my carrer. I have doing home office for a couple of years but recently discovered your channel and books Eric. Since then and so… you are my model. Congrats

  • These experiences are true for every entrepreneur in the first years. I have a small millwork sop , manufacturing commercial millwork and it's the same experience with time management. Hoping that I can strategies better for 2019. I don't know how the competition is for architects but it is always brisk in the millwork business even thought there is a lot of work to choose from the competition is always there to suppress the value of a project.

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