There is a saving that “if you want to win you gotta get in the game” and as my buddy Jack Larimore says, even the Chicago Cubs win now and again. This is how I feel about the Dubai job.
When a job like this is done there is a natural fall of energy. This was a job that that strained everyone in one way or another. A job that has seen people working late, coming in over Christmas holidays, all to get “the very best” done. For that is what we do. And done by this damn deadline.
When I see people like Daren, Steve, Giles and Shainic working like that, and I see Ed and Jon supporting them, taking the strain with the students whilst this crisis loomed. I feel immensely proud of what we do, and who I do it with. They are the best team of makers and teachers you could find anywhere.
But then I look at what we have done, and who it is for. The packing crates we used will probably provide useful housing for two families in Dubai. Yet our furniture, I am told by my client “may well be all changed in five years time”. I almost always enjoy a relationship with my client, but that is when I am dealing with the real end user, not an intermediary. I like making something that expresses my clients values, says something about them. I am engaged in two family dining table at the moment, both have far more “value” in them than this Dubai job, yet they bring one tenth of the revenue.
Now the job is done you can add it up and see how much exactly it has cost you. At the beginning we cost it based on prior experience “ thats about 400 hours” we guess at materials based on 30 years buying timber and veneers. But the job always takes longer, there are always extras the client wants that it seems churlish to charge for. “ Can you take a copy of the inlays in the table top and send it to the linen supplier in Paris we want to have a emboss on the table linen that echoes the inlays” Of course we can.
When you start a job rubbing your hand at the prospective profit its important at the end of the job to do a deep analysis of what really happened and what did it really cost.
There are cost in money and there are other costs, how much has that job taken from you emotionally, how much has it given. I am working on a small chair and have been for about five years that now gives me delight every time I clap eyes on it.
When it comes down to it you look yourself in the mirror and say well its paid for Shanghai and brought us a good profit . Its a pity its not what I call a portfolio piece but you need money to balance the books and rarely will every job tick every box.
There is a great saying I have noted the exact words back home by Teddy Roosevelt one of Americas great presidents. I cannot remember the exact words but it is on the lines of this:
“ Pity not the fighter that stumbles and falls tasting the dust of fear and failure .For he is striving mightily and daring greatly. Instead pity those cold and timid souls that sit at ringside never able to summon the courage to take part, they have only to sit on the side and criticise. Pity them. “
Onward every onward to Shanghai Design.