Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Creating With Your Client

Frank Gehry

Lesson time 15:03 min

Frank knows the importance of communicating with clients. By including them at every step of the design process, your projects will gain order and personality. In this chapter, Frank shares how to make creative collaboration a priority.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Understand your clients needs • Respect the budget • Decide if it's the right project for you • Create and experiment with site models • Explore materials that fit both budget and design • Vet technical issues as you go • Keep your client engaged during the whole process


When you're working with a client, you're working with people. They have feelings, they have needs, that changes from day to day. They may have seen a picture in a magazine that you would hate, but they came and say, "look! I want to do this!" So, it's non-linear. You've got to be willing to roll with the punches. I think of it as steering a boat, your hands on the tiller. It's subtle. When you're sailing it varies constantly, and things happen. And you have to be open to it. That's the excitement, to us, is to get people really involved. Because, if it's a house it's their, going to be their place to live. So you don't-- I don't like just making a sculpture and say, OK, here it is, take it or leave it, and move in. Every project you do, it's important to develop a trust relationship with the client where they know that you're working for them. You're bringing your art form to their-- to them. It's not unlike the, I mean he was pompous, but Michelangelo with Pope Julius. He was doing the paintings that Pope Julius asked him to, but he was doing them his way. We get a client, somebody calls us and says they want to do something, let's make it simple call it a house. They have a property somewhere, in a canyon or on the beach or somewhere. They have a family, they have a certain budget. We try to find out who the people are. What are their values, what are their art collection, what are-- how they live, what their dream is for this particular dwelling. What part of the site is-- why they chose the site, why they chose me, why they-- just getting to know you kind of period. We have a client now for a house whose background is Iranian. She has a different model for a family compound than a lot of different cultures. And so, to get into that and create this, the privacy that she needs from her family, and that allows for the communal activity, all of that starts at the beginning. I start to understand these people and what they like, what their values are, how they talk to each other. And during that period we sit and sketch. I mean, I can't help it. I just always have a pen or pencil in my hand, and some blank paper. And I'm thinking with them out loud as to the usual spaces-- living room, dining room, bedroom, blah, blah, blah-- and starts to develop a story that inspires a kind of visual response. An organizational response, an architectural response, a kind of a spatial response. And I'm not talking about six months of meetings. I'm talking about three or four meetings. Visit to the site, visit to their house they live in, maybe go out to dinner to their favorite restaurant. Just three or four meetings like that, you start to establish a rapport that is comfortable for both sides. I mean it's not that complicated, is just being aware that there's a lot of nuance in different cultures, different lives. It's...

About the Instructor

At 19 years old, Frank Gehry was a truck driver taking sculpture classes at night school. His vision for what architecture could accomplish went on to reshape our cities’ skylines and the imaginations of artists and designers around the world. In his online architecture class, this master builder invites you into his never-before-seen model archive for a look into his creative process.

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Frank Gehry

In 17 lessons, Frank teaches his unconventional philosophy on architecture, design, and art.

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