Tender Pain

Lately, we have been wading through bureaucratically painful tenders with increasing regularity.  Often we can rarely get past the first set of questions and the documents are so strict and dense there is little chance of expressing the important qualities of innovation and creativity. For the most part these tenders are more concerned with relatively mundane subjects and housekeeping and the mechanical way in which these are marked leaves the client no room for intuitive selection. Of course there must be fairness and transparency in the selection of design firms but it occurs to us that this is brimming with irony as these tenders are largely geared towards established practices and their very nature puts small companies like our own at a distinct disadvantage.

Few clients are willing to spend time seeking out good design and fewer are willing to take chances. Yet these days everyone insist they want innovative design.  This is a duality that does not make sense.  Innovators are usually designers who are willing to take risks and this is just as likely to happen, if not more so, in small dynamic studios as it is in large established practices.

We commend the brave clients and architects we work with. They don’t just say they want innovative design, they mean it and have committed time and money to finding us. At times, we are sure that some may even have felt marginally insecure with this brave action.   However,  the vast majority of our clients have been rewarded for their faith and have projects which have far exceeded their expectations.

We recently had the unexpected opportunity to compare our projects with two others designed as a result of such tenders.  It was almost shocking to see the difference between these.  Our projects were well observed spaces full of detail and strong identity which resonate of the place to which they belong, whilst the others seemed like mere furniture installations.  It’s not just about innovation either. It is about commitment.  We are young and hungry and can dedicate boundless time and resources to a project.  These tender forms leave no room to communicate any of the above subtleties.

Our message is clear, innovative thinking results in innovative designs.  Let us compete on a equal basis.  If you have to tender, don’t use some standard form. Think about the important questions you need to ask to find the type of design or designer you want.  Don’t mechanically mark the returns either.  Ask for presentations, go and see design studios and use your intuition to seek out the innovators. You wont regret it.

    • gcaarchitects
    • July 26th, 2009

    I shareyour views completely, posted about this on my blog previously at http://scarpadog.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/january/ and on my most recent post. It is a continual bug bear of mine but i keep plugging away! Good luck

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