Shanghai, 5th February 2010
Speculative design is a very sensitive issue. Sometimes we get approached by clients to provide a lighting concept without appointment. In other words we have to develop a concept and if they like it we may be appointed. A bit like participating in a competition.
I generally take a stand that I do not engage in speculative design, simply because to me lighting design is my bread and butter. It is not like a supplier where I send in goods and if they don’t like it they return it. You still have the goods afterwards. As I mentioned in my “fee proposal” blog a few days ago, our commodity as lighting designers is our expertise and most of all our time! Time is an investment that you will not get back (don’t we all wish sometimes we had 36 hours in the day?).
There are of course exceptions to the rule and we have to judge each case for its merits and business potential, but most of the time I find that clients abuse the situation and bank on the company’s eagerness to get the job. I don’t have an issue for a client to ask several designers to work on a concept and then select the best one, but at least it should be done professionally and paid for!
Not so long ago we were invited to participate in a hotel concept bid by an interior designer. In an earlier process the client had shortlisted 2 interior design companies. It then asked the two companies to come up with a concept for the hotel for which it paid a proper fee. It would then build two mock up rooms according to each design and choose the winning concept company for the renovation of the whole hotel. To me that is the right way.