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Speak Up: Max Thomson

We ask a member of the A+D community to ’Speak Up’ on the issues facing you.

Speak Up: Max Thomson


May 19th, 2009

“Step away from the latest glossy mag and let your mind rediscover
the art of creation.” – Max Thomson

Max, you’ve been quoted as saying that a project can be “fast and good”, “good and cheap” or “cheap and fast”, but never all three. Can you explain this further?


Good, fast, cheap – pick two!
It’s an old adage. When I was at college we used to call it “Work, sleep, and play” which perhaps explains why I did so badly. I have also heard it used for us blokes: Handsome, High-Earner, Faithful; although by definition this means that all male designers are handsome and faithful.
Anyway, much has been written on the subject and the concept is pretty simple. If you want your project to be good and the client wants it now, then it aint going to be cheap. Equally, if that same client is still in a hurry but has no money then stand-by for a dodgy job. And yet what about good and cheap? Designers tend to groan at the prospect of cheap, and many will think it is an excuse for un-good.

However this is where I think the greatest opportunity for creativity lies. If there is time on your side, and assuming your client is wise enough to invest some money in your fees, here is your moment to shine.

Step away from the latest glossy mag and let your mind rediscover the art of creation. It worked for Shigeru Ban and his cardboard tubes, and I know local designers here who are exploring innovative uses for materials such as hebel in fitouts with great success.

I wish more designers would take a moment to step outside of the standard detail manual and be creative. It is why they chose this industry, and it is why they are employed.


Max Thomson is co-founder of design and project management firm hamiltonthomson.


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