A Sign of the Times
Architecture & Interiors
A nickel for architecture is no joke. It's a thriving business and one that just
might out live the recession.
If you drop by the farmer's market in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, you
can buy juicy red tomatoes, ripe clusters of grapes, and architecture. In a booth
inspired by Lucy's psychiatry stand from the comic strip, Peanuts, architect John
Morefield dishes out sage advice for five cents. Morefield can help you decide
where to add a staircase, or sketch out a new roof plan, or suggest the name
of a drywall contractor.
After being laid off twice last year, Morefield joined the growing ranks of
unemployed architects whose jobs were cut because of the economic
downturn. Rather than change professions, or move to another city to find work,
Morefield took a more radical turn: he dropped his prices to a nickel and set up
shop in a farmer's market. Business has been booming. Of course, Morefield is
not designing an entire house for five cents, which he donates to the Ballard
Food Bank. He is answering questions in order to create leads. Everyone leaves
with a business card.
Morefield is busy expanding his operation. At his web site,
architecture5cents.com you can pay a nickel and receive architectural advice or
you can join the Architecture 5¢ movement and become a franchisee. This means you get your own booth, website, license to use the "Architecture 5¢" trademark, a blog, etc, etc.
Morefield says that he wants other architects to get "out on their streets, engaging their
communities." But he is also offering a business strategy for generating new clients.
Is Morefield driving down the value of architecture or is he simply making the
idea of hiring an architect more accessible? One thing is certain, if the economy
continues to worsen, we might see other professions set up booths in their local
farmer's market. Keep your eyes peeled for "Medical Advice 5¢."