What's in a name?

So here it is, at last, our website.  Thanks to Mathieu Schmutzler of Cayenne Creative and Mike Cammarata of Cammami Design for the creativity and energy they have lent to the project.

We are all rosy with pride at actually having a presence on the internet. Now everyone on the planet with an internet connection can take a look at our work. If we get lucky, maybe someone will steal a couple of our ideas. We like the work we have posted on the site, and we feel like the world would be a better place if someone tried to copy it. But lets dispense with the humility for a moment.

In order for someone to find our site, they first have to know our name. Standard Creative!, like most names, can be skewed in several different directions: we’ve been called “Creative Standard”, which sounds a little bit like a newspaper for graphic designers; “Standard Architecture”, which we like in general, but they want too much for the domain name; and “Standard Creations”, which could really be a gift basket retailer or beauty parlor. Frightening.

Architecture firms generally take one of two approaches to picking their names. The first, more traditional, approach gathers the name or names of the principal architects (principals are like partners in a law firm) and slap them next to each other without any commas succeeded by ”...Partners”, ”...and Associates”, ”...Group”, ”...Studio”, or ”...Architecture”. When one of the original principals dies or moves on, then a combination of alabama law and a branding crisis usually leads the firm to simply abbreviate the original name. Odds are that their clients are already doing that anyhow, because it is easier to say, for instance, “MKY is designing our new offices” than it would be to say, “McMatheison Krautenberg Yearsley and Associates” is performing that same service. Often the name of the firm is so heavy with alliteration and consonance that people find themselves dabbing the corners of their mouth or chin after saying it aloud. This is particularly true of firms hailing from the Michigan-Wisconsin region.

The other approach, and the naming convention to which our firm more or less subscribes, involves the use of clever wordplay. It usually aims to describe some aspect of the firm’s philosophy, although sometimes the cleverness seems to be limited to an arbitrary reference to the buildings. Still, even a well-thought-out philosophical approach can get a little heavy-handed, as evidenced by some of the sophisticated design firms out of New York, L.A., and Europe: dECOi, office dA, UNStudio, or SHoP Architects.  

We didn’t feel that Birmingham, Alabama, was ready for such an aggressive use of the shift button or the conspicuous disregard of the space bar. But we did select a name that reflected our general belief that there is a dualism in the practice of architecture that drives projects forward. On the one hand are the elements of good practice: thoroughness, attention to clients, open collaboration, honesty, and good stewardship, to name a few; on the other are passion for design, a love for detail, and a healthy willingness to stretch out and try new things. That is how we got to Standard Creative!, a couplet that we believe captures that without being too specific, a constant reminder to ourselves about the mission of the firm. We also have the distinction of being one of the few firms that I am aware of whose name is an oxymoron.

The exclamation point is Mathieu Schmutzler's contribution. Mathieu helped us develop this website and the rest of our corporate suite. That is to say, Mathieu designed it all with carte blanche and we told him that we loved it. He added the exclamation point and the yellow/orange color to emphasize the freshness and energy of our new firm. Even now I wince just slightly when I type “Standard Creative!”, but it makes me smile, so it can’t be all that bad. For the record, our legal name doesn’t have the exclamation point. It is punctuated by an LLC, which is much flatter and less interesting.

We hope that you will enjoy our site and our work. Please check back with us periodically, we will be adding new projects as they finish up and updating our “miscellanea” section on a regular basis. As with everything we have been doing here, this website is only a beginning..


STANDARD CREATIVE!, a full service residential architecture firm, was founded by a group of young architects led by Bruce Lanier in 2006. After spending over 10 years within the industry, Lanier wanted to offer a better working environment to both other architects and clients. By opening STANDARD CREATIVE! on their own terms, they were able to build a creative, energetic and adaptable firm. This allows the architects freedom to create their designs in an open and honest environment, while also offering clients a more comprehensive approach than is presented in typical firms.

What makes STANDARD CREATIVE! different, aside from the unique talents of the architects, is the method in which they approach projects. At many firms, you typically have a principal architect lay the groundwork and then pass the pieces down to junior member of the staff, another architect or intern. STANDARD CREATIVE! strives to have a skilled team involved in a project from its inception to completion. Another benefit of the group structure is that the firm best maximizes individual architects’ strengths. Giving clients many minds for the price of one.

STANDARD CREATIVE! strives to make the construction process as pleasant as possible for the customer while still producing high-end design. Candor has been a core principal of STANDARD CREATIVE! from its beginnings. By taking extra care to listen to their client needs, the team at STANDARD CREATIVE! will give honest feedback in order to provide the best solutions matching the client’s program, style and budget. Standard Creative! believes in working with the client to make the project a collaborative process - encouraging open dialog and freedom of ideas.

Our mission is fairly succinct:

Do great, honest design work. As a team.


Architecture + Miscellanea
825 C 39th Street South
Birmingham, Alabama 35222

Telephone: 205.595.8181
Fax: 205.595.8180