Thursday, August 28, 2008

PROJECT RUNWAY and ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL: Lessons from Two Television Shows

ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL is a reality show currently running on the Sundance Channel. The August 27th episode focused on the Tulane architecture students presenting their designs for building an affordable new home in a Katrina-ravaged neighborhood of shotgun houses.

(New Orleans shotgun houses are long narrow houses with no hall – each room is directly behind the other so, if you shot a gun from the front, the shot would go straight through to the back.)

The presentations would impact which of the student designs would be chosen for the students to actually build. Yet almost all the students were really terribly at presenting and “selling” their designs.

Although all these students wanted their design to be the one chosen – big kudo for an architectural student, yet it appeared most of them had given little thought to the explanation and selling of their designs.

As this show follows Bravo’s PROJECT RUNWAY, I had just seen a fashion designer chosen as the one to be OUT partly because of his unimaginative design and partly because he whined during the critique of his design, blamed his model, and actually complained about the judges’ previous “criticism” of him.

Michael Kors, “top American designer,” said words to this effect: Face it, kid, this is what life is like as a fashion designer. You’ve got to be prepared to take the good and the bad.

What do these two television shows have to do with college applications, internships, jobs and careers? Several lessons:

  • If you are given an assignment – when you present that assignment, be prepared to assertively but not aggressively sell your vision.

  • Accept critique willingly and understand that you can often learn more from your mistakes. Do not insist on being the one in the right.

  • Do not blame others for your less-than-stellar presentation. Accept responsibility.

Watching Michael Kors’ face as the OUT designer left the runway, it was clear that Kors felt this guy just didn’t get it. How much better if the disgruntled designer had graciously thanked all the judges for the incredible opportunity to have been part of Project Runway?

Make sure you are thought of as an amicable person who learns from critiques and appreciates your opportunities. That reputation can take you a long way.

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Sun Singer said...

That architectural program reminds me of a show I've seen on HGTV that also shows students getting a chance to try out their design skills. Interesting stuff. I've only seen project runway once, and I'm not happy admitting that I did. I also noticed the losers whining about problems outside their control. Hmmm, what great resume material such tantrums provide. :-)


Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Malcolm --

Nice to "see" you here. Thanks for leaving this comment.

Anonymous said...

Something that should be noted:

Project Runway does extensive casting to be sure the contestants have both talent and contentious personalities.

Architecture School simply documented the particular class it was given.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Good point about the difference between the contestants on Project Runway and the class members on Architecture School. Yet what I missed most in Architecture School was an up-close-and-personal look at the creative decisions made by the students as they designed their houses. In Project Runway we get a lot of this information.