Book Review: The Business Of Design

Author: Keith Granet (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011)

Keith Granet once worked as an intern in an architecture firm. He soon realized that while he loved being involved in the design world he wasn’t fond of the menial daily tasks of an architect. Instead he went into business school and has helped many well-known architects to build profitable and successful businesses.

This book—The Business of Design—provides a great overview of the diverse aspects involved in running an architectural business. Granet argues that architects are constantly involved in business-like task such as project management, communication with consultants and diverse types of negotiations. Nevertheless, architectural education mostly focuses on the conceptual aspects of design. As a result, architects often face difficulty in maintaining the balance between a creative practice and financial health of the organization.

How can designers maintain high quality work while having a profitable business? Well, according to Granet, we could start by learning a little bit more about the business side of things. While this book doesn’t provide all the answers it definitely sets out the basics for running a well-managed design business.

The book itself is broken into six self-explanatory chapters—The Foundation of A Design Business, Business and Financial Management, Marketing and Public Relations, Human Resources, Project Management and Product Development. These are anchored at both ends by an Introduction and Conclusion, with an interview with well-known designer, Victoria Hagan, roughly bisecting the book.

Importantly, the first chapter covers the basics about key aspects of business creation, such as putting together a business plan and defining the values for your company. Subsequent chapters build on this covering important topics necessary to running a design business in easy, accessible language.

Overall, The Business of Design is a great resource and reference to have whether you work for a company or are planning to start your own.

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You can find out more information about The Business of Design on the Princeton Architectural Press website, that consequently also has a number of sample pages your can flip through online.

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Alicia Medina Laddaga is an architecture and urban designer/researcher based in Vancouver. Originally from Mexico where she studied and practiced architecture, she moved to Vancouver in 2011 to pursue a Masters of Advanced Studies in Architecture at UBC. While trying to bridge the gap between two cultures (Mexico and Canada), Alicia keeps on developing her ideas about the ways in which dynamic and spontaneous processes transform cities into vibrant urban environments.