On 17th March 2022, Lovely School of Design organised a guest lecture on how to successfully build a strong and fast-growing design firm. The guest of honors was none other than the sibling duo, Ar. Harkaran Boparai and Ar. Simran Boparai, the co-founders of Space 5, a multidisciplinary architecture studio set in Amritsar and Delhi. The duo started this journey back in 2018 and within a year, they were facilitated with the National Design Award for being the most promising architectural brand. Today, Space 5 has successfully handled more than a hundred projects across multiple design categories and is geared towards contemporary design conversations, with emphasis on telling ‘design as a story’.

Here are some insights from the session and the four steps a newbie designer should follow to successfully establish their design firm:

1. Know Your Niche

If you go out to find a specific fish, it would be much harder to identify it in an ocean. On the contrary, you will easily spot that fish in an aquarium. Similarly, you should filter and select the best subject from the whole fish market, even if it is one or two. As one good project can outshine several useless endeavours in a  portfolio. Know your design style, and what you are best at. So as a designer, you should be the one choosing your clients and not the other way round.

2. You Are Not a Newcomer

“Fake it till you make it”, is an aphorism that suggests that by imitating confidence and an optimistic mindset, a person eventually adapts and achieves the results they are seeking. Even as a greenhorn, you should be surefooted on your skills and focus on your forte. Have confidence in the education and skills you acquired over the period.  Value only those customers who value your time and talent.

3. Build Your Brand

Authenticity can never be traded for anything. As a designer, you should have a unique identity that sets you apart from other designers. Although it is necessary to know your competitors and understand the market. Some specialization in a particular domain will make your portfolio stronger than anyone else. Give something that people can recognize your work by a single look on Instagram!

4. Stick to your Ethics

Newbies are often bullied by the clients, mainly in the stipends section. However, stand firm on your grounds and the set of rules on which you want to run your firm. Don’t get manipulated. Have self-awareness of your art and expertise. Tell what you are offering on the table and if the client is still into negotiations, do not alter your stand. Reject those clients who don’t align with your value system.

“Pour his (client’s) value and filter it through your funnel of knowledge” ~Ar. Harkaran Boparai

Here are some edifying answers to the questions asked by some fresh minds :

How to communicate with a client, which could be a dream project?

  • Accurately present yourself.
  • Do your homework and know the market.
  • Initially explain your design style and ethics.
  • Don’t start writing their requirements with pen-paper, that’s worst.
  • Show them your research and development.
  • Take him on a studio tour, show him the new materials you are working with.
  • The trends you are updated with.
  • Show him all the crazy artworks/sculptures you have worked upon.
  • Show your whole package. What you are serving on the plate.

‘Leave an everlasting experience’ which makes a special place in the client’s cerebral. It will help him while making his final decision.

How come you say the firm has 40+ years of experience?

  • While building a new team for the firm, don’t hire people lower than you.
  • Hire the best from respective fields.
  • Some are good at designing while some have great presentation skills.
  • If you can’t afford the best, hire them on a commission basis.
  • Build a beautiful team of like-minded people.
  • The cumulative experience of each team member of your firm will give you 40 plus years of knowledge. 

The sibling duo concluded the session with a brief on the Domino’s Effect, which states that once you start following your ethics and value system; things start falling exactly the way you wanted them.