The house painter and the architect


We don’t design a book until after it’s written.

Or cast the movie until the screenplay is complete.

The house painter has an important job, but it makes no sense to plan for the painting before the house is designed.

This makes a lot of sense because some parts of a project have high variability which can lead to very different outcomes.

There are more than a billion ways to write a book, but fewer than 100 distinct categories of interior book design.

We desperately need house painters, gaffers and book designers. If they don’t deliver on their work, the entire project falls apart. But they don’t go first.

The job of the house painter is to amplify the architect’s vision, not vice versa.

So there are a few questions worth asking:

First, which one of the tasks is the dominant variable, the one where simply doing ‘a pretty good job’ is going to be insufficient (no one talks about the roofer on a Frank Lloyd Wright house–until it leaks).

Second, which job do you want? We need both, but we should choose the path that suits our goals.

[To be clear, it’s a role, not a job title. There are plenty of designers and painters who act as architects, and some architects that are not the pivot point for the project.]


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