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The postmodernism blip


Public clients versus private clients
Richard Meier Architect
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Well, the best clients are the individual clients, where you can have a conversation one to one and, you know, everyone has a different opinion, you, sort of, work it out but it’s, sort of, a kind of dialogue. The most difficult clients are public clients... the public agency because you have, you know, everyone interested in something different and they couldn’t care less what the other person is involved with. And so, in doing two federal courthouses, you know, the chief judge tries to take the lead role but he’s quickly outvoted by the security guards and the maintenance people. You know, they have more to say than the judges but... and it makes it difficult because you’re trying to, you know, satisfy everyone’s needs and at the same time there’s no hierarchy because it’s public... it’s a public plan. And then... so I would say the public client is by far the most... the most difficult and then the, I guess, the other multi-headed agencies, you know, are equally difficult because you don’t have a single client. You have dozens of people and oftentimes, both in terms of the public and the large group of people, those people change during the process. The same people are not necessarily the ones you begin with that you end up with, they’re different people coming along the way with different... other expectations and requests. So it makes it difficult, so the institutional clients, the public clients, are tough. Private clients are much better.

[Q] The worst client you had?

The worst, well that’s a good question. You, sort of, tend to forget, sort of selected amnesia. That’s all I’m going to say, ah, that wasn’t so bad.

The prominent American architect Richard Meier (b. 1934) is best known for the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, one of his many public projects which broke from his usual style of sleek, white buildings. In all his work – carried out with characteristic refined style – he refuses to bend to the trends of modern architecture. He has won many awards including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, considered the field's highest honour.

Listeners: Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan and studied architecture in Milan and Venice. He is the co-founder and President of Vignelli Associates and Chief Executive Officer of Vignelli Designs in New York. His work includes graphic and corporate identity programs, publication designs, architectural graphics, interiors, furniture, and consumer product designs. His work has been published and exhibited throughout the world and entered in the permanent collections of several museums. He has taught and lectured on design in the major cities and universities in the United States and abroad. Included among Massimo Vignelli's awards are the Gran Premio Triennale di Milano, 1964, the Compasso d'Oro, awarded by the Italian Association for Industrial Design (ADI), 1964 and 1998, the 1982 Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, the 1983 AIGA Gold Medal, the 1992 Interior Product Designers Fellowship of Excellence, The 1995 Brooklyn Museum Design Award for Lifetime Achievement and The 2001 Russel Wright Award for Design Excellence.

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2007

Date story went live: 23 December 2008