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Roberto Cruz Niemiec CannonDesign ArchAtlasVice President at Cannon Design and curator of ArchAtlas, Roberto Cruz Niemiec has +20 years experience manifesting his client’s brand image and philosophy through architecture & design.

How does architecture & design fit into the branding process? Architecture and design are integral to the branding process. Architecture works on two levels. Your office sends an architecture design company such as Cannon Design an image of how your organization works, your brand vision as a team, how you treat your employees and your expectations. At another level, your building can serve as an image of your organization, an icon. Design affects how your company is perceived on all levels: from your logo and forms to products and advertising.

What is Cannon Design’s unique selling point? Cannon Design is a global design services firm focused on creating design solutions to the greatest challenges facing our clients and society. We focus mostly on healthcare and education projects in North America. CannonDesign has a couple of characteristics that differentiate it from other firms. We work as one office, not separate profit centers; so regardless of where the project is located we will make sure the best expertise available firm-wide is assigned to your project. Also, we are not a firm that is created to promote one designer or one style of architecture, we recognize each project is unique, and as such the design is unique to that project.

What are a few projects CannonDesign has worked on?

I want to hire an architect. How can I tell the good from the bad? Choosing an architect comes down to chemistry and sharing a common goal. Choose an architect who you feel you can work with but that will challenge you and expand on your ideas. After you have narrowed your search you can visit his office, visit previous projects and check references. Do not ignore this step, it will provide you with a better understanding of how well the architect collaborates and how successful his/her projects are.

Did you launch Archatlas as a side hobby, a career positioning move, or both? ArchAtlas was started purely as a hobby, a way for me to save all the incredible things I find on the web everyday. It took me a while to understand all the different aspects of tumblr and what I could strive for. To this day most people where I work – my peers and colleagues – are oblivious to the fact that I run a somewhat successful blog.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Nearly all of the creatives I interview stress the importance of keeping and organizing your ideas and inspirations because you never know when something you saw will become the foundation for a future project.]

In less than 2 years later you grew your follower-base to +100,000 followers. What milestones helped ArchAtlas reach this level of success? I don’t have an answer to that question so I took that opportunity to organize a tumblr etiquette 101.

However, the first year ArchAtlas was very lucky to be featured on tumblr’s radar a number of times and the blog has always had the support of the tag editors. I’ve never used paid advertising, and to be honest I am still learning how to establish a social network. I guess I have just been very lucky to meet other bloggers that have showed me how tumblr could be a very powerful platform for sharing ideas. 

As for milestones, I can recall things I did that defined my style as a blogger and made me more aware of the kind of power a blog can have:

  • When I started ArchAtlas (back when tumblr was smaller and more personal), I contacted the top design and architecture editors and collaborators and said hi. I got very lucky that those bloggers I contacted were such great people that to this day I count them as friends.
  • Chaz McIntyre of Really-Shit invited me to be a collaborator on a group blog called UnknownEditors (now called Cross Connect) where I got to meet a number of great bloggers.
  • The Khooll invited me to post on his blog. I learned so much from him on how to create content because we worked together on most of the posts.
  • Being the top collaborator on the design and architecture tag and being featured on tumblr’s radar at different moments has really contributed to people finding my blog; there is no denying that.
  • When art/design/architecture sites outside tumblr, like This Is Colossal or My Modern Met, picked up content from my blog the very first time was a very surprising and invigorating development.
  • When I found out an artist from Venezuela was offered a chance for an exhibition in the US (his first internationally) because of me posting his work also gave me a sense of satisfaction.

How often I publish on ArchAtlas varies, however lately it’s closer to 6 times a day without counting reblogs and responses to questions. I’ve found that consistency and quality of content are critical for a blog to maintain followers and grow. As soon as you stop blogging for a couple of days followers start leaving; that it’s how it works.

Lately it seems that word has spread that I have been in the industry for a long time and that I will answer questions related to architecture school and such. It has been interesting (and time consuming) to be able to offer responses to younger followers interested in the profession; something I never planned to do with ArchAtlas. If you’re interested you can follow my ongoing Architecture Q&A here.

How do you feel tumblr has changed since Yahoo! took over? As tumblr moves away from being a community of misfits towards a sponsored content cornucopia, blogs like ArchAtlas (a one person labor of love on their time off) will probably have to adapt or be pushed out.

Yes, tumblr has and will change more. Blogs like ArchAtlas cannot compete for content with blogs that have a magazine, a newspaper or a tv network behind them. That is undeniable. Most blogs that are just another outlet for a media company seldom try to foster the sense of community that a one person blog does. (Don’t get me wrong, some do, very effectively)

In the tumblr community in which ArchAtlas evolved there are a group of bloggers who know each other by name; almost as if tumblr were a global magazine and each of us are responsible for curating our own section of it. For new bloggers trying to make their mark it’s tough because they don’t have that network and as tumblr grows it becomes increasingly more difficult to make those kinds of connections. Tumblr is different because of those bloggers, not for the media outlets that have now saturated the site.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I also asked this question during my interviews with tumblrs Sophie Andreson of Neuromaencer and Freelance Product Designer Timoni West.]

ArchAtlas is advertising free. Do you plan on monetizing it? It sounds like a great idea but I have not researched what it would take to effectively turn ArchAtlas into a money maker. I have been approached by others to do so but until now no definite strategy has been developed. For now it will remain a hobby.