Unpaid architecture internships in Japan
are a "nice opportunity" says Sou Fujimoto

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Sou Fujimoto portrait by David Vintiner

News: Sou Fujimoto, the architect of this year's Serpentine Pavilion, has defended the Japanese practice of hiring unpaid "open desk" interns, describing the system as a "nice opportunity" for both the employer and intern.

Speaking to Dezeen at the press preview of the pavilion yesterday, the head of Sou Fujimoto Architects said: "In Japan we have a long history of interns and usually the students work for free for several periods. It’s a nice opportunity for both of us: [for the employer] to know younger generations and for them to know how architects in Japan or different countries are working."

He added: "For my office there are many, many interns – especially from abroad."

Unpaid internships in UK architecture and design offices have been causing controversy lately, with RIBA president Angela Brady calling for whistle-blowers to report member practices that break the institute’s rules by taking on unpaid workers. Practices found guilty will have their chartered practice status removed.

"All staff must be paid if they are working for a RIBA chartered practice," Brady told Dezeen. "If they do not do this, the practice will be struck off the chartered practice list." Brady said this had happened in a handful of cases, but could not give figures.

She added: "I think it is exploitation to take staff who are doing productive work in your office and not pay them a fair wage".

The RIBA changed its rules in 2011 to compel chartered practices to pay at least the minimum wage to all student placements. Later that year the British Institute of Interior Design followed suit and recommended that all interior design interns be paid at least the statutory minimum wage.

Dezeen stopped hiring unpaid editorial interns earlier this year following criticism of the practice.

In Japan however, there is a widespread tradition of "open desk" working, where students and graduates typically spend between three and six months working without pay to gain experience. Architecture firms regularly use "open desk" workers to build models and prepare drawings.

"They get scholarships by themselves and they come to my office and spend from three months to six months sometimes," said Fujimoto, who is based in Tokyo. "The interns are making beautiful models and sometimes if it is a long period, for example six months, they can join more deeply in the project. They are really helpful and they are really powerful."

He added that the debate about the ethics of taking on unpaid workers had yet to surface in Japan. "In Japan we don’t yet have much discussion as to whether it is good or bad. I understand that there is such a discussion surrounding working for free and whether it is good or bad, so I’d like to see how the whole discussion is going along."

Internships with high-profile Japanese architects are popular with international students and graduates, who are not offered any financial help with travel or accommodation and are expected to make their own visa arrangements. They are expected to work the same long hours as paid staff, with the working day lasting from 10am to midnight in some offices.

Fujimoto added: "If you have to pay all the interns, then we’d definitely have to limit the number of the interns and we couldn’t provide such an opportunity for students or younger people to gain experience in [...] architecture."

See architecture and design by Sou Fujimoto »

  • Rex Guilty

    IMO it is not worth it to go to Japan to learn anything (concerning architecture). Better apply to a well organized office with international projects that sees the value of your work and pays for it. You will learn a lot more and be able to participate in all kinds of phases. Not just sniff glue and make 3D renderings.

    The “open desk” system is a typical instrument in Japan to legalize an otherwise illegal practice. It seems to be sanctioned by the Japanese architects association. That makes it institutionalised explotation in a country ruled by old men from the bubble times.

  • http://www.janledwon.pl Jasiek Ledwoń

    Sou, could you design a house for me for free? It could be a great opportunity for you to gain a great new experience.

  • Hornithologist

    Aaah, what a wonderful opportunity and what great experience! The opportunity to be exploited and the experience of being underpaid (totally unpaid) for the work you do as an architect.

    No wonder society no longer sees architecture as a discipline that adds value. Interns of the world come to South Africa. We may be a developing economy, but at least we pay our interns!

  • weiwei

    A side comment: the whether-opendesk-should-be-paid thing aside, opendesk people don’t necessarily just do models btw. most people who did an intern in japan made models simply because they can’t speak Japanese and couldn’t effectively communicate with the staff. As an English speaker, for example, in what ways do you think you could best contribute to the design team?
    I did unpaid internships in japan and I had to fund my trip myself. It’s not the star architects like SF and SANAA, almost all offices in japan are doing unpaid opendesk. I started by making models, of course, and, since I could speak Japanese, I proposed contributing my design, and my ideas were accepted. When I worked at SF, I only made physical models for the first two days, and then I started making rendering and presentation materials for them, and were invited to join the meetings. It’s much more likely to be assigned meaningful work when they think they could best communicate with you. One Japanese opendesk student in the office already started helping them preparing for an exhibition soon after she got in the office. I believe if you expect the Japanese to speak English to you and give you meaningful work, you are best suited to model-making.

    • ilukin

      This is an unscrupulous and unethical way in thinking about a situation here. If the firm doesn’t want to grow as an international practice and if they feel that regional communication skills are required within the team, then better not hire anyone who doesn’t speak the language. It could be anywhere in the world. Logic.

      Let’s talk some sense here man. It is good that the RIBA, and sort of Dezeen, has brought this long existing problem into light now.

  • JayCee

    The point of this article has been forgotten by most of the responses: it is against the charter of the RIBA in the UK, to condone the exploitation of workers, that is to say unpaid internships. The stance of the RIBA is made clear on this matter.

    However there are several high profile architect and design firms in the UK who are consistently rumoured (openly or otherwise) to use unpaid workers. I would like to see statements made by all UK architects – in particular those who are voiciferous on other rights, such as womens rights in the workplace – condemning such practices.

    I have to wonder though what pro-active action is being taken by the RIBA in this matter who are a consistently useless and ineffectual professional organisation. Or if it is just all bluster and no trousers? Again.

  • JayCee

    Anybody going to start picketing the Serpentine pavillion? Or are British students more interested in making Harlem Shake videos that in real political action?

  • Craine

    What happend here? Architects used to be the ones who wanted to make an impact on society with their work. Their work should be an act of culture. It is upsetting how little political awareness there is in Fujimoto’s statements. Talking like he could not make a difference. Instead he wants to watch the process… What an indifferent man.

  • RickyRicky

    Such a shame.

  • Desk

    There should be a minimum wage. A cross gauge of a room rental rate, daily bento, water, for toiletries and coffee, and transportation. At the very least, basic human modern survival. Rich kids should be questioned on their backgrounds, if they wish to join, they should pay.

    • Paul D.

      I agree with you saying there should be a minimum wage, but why should ‘rich kids’ be questioned on their backgrounds? Shouldn’t everyone be judged on their skills and knowledge?

  • MUMU

    I am working open desk right now as an experienced architect, but I’m not Japanese. I will continue to work till 1am tonight. My wife and my old savings keep me alive right now.

    You guys who support open desk have no idea how it is to live in Japan with a regular salary. I worked as a factory worker, cleaned rooms, worked at night clubs as a bodyguard. I have three years experience in architecture after graduation and one year at a design company. But I had to have a bright future here and working as a part-timer gets to nowhere.

    They said to me for become an architect in Japan I must study here. I obeyed, I am unhappy now and can feel they are using me now. For three months I will bear this s*** and then I’m gone.

  • Soupdragon

    Poor workplace attitudes is one of the key reasons why Japan has a suicide rate twice that of the UK.

    • Getoverit

      Another commenter who understand less than zero about Japan.

      • Soupdragon

        Tell me, when did you work in Japan? Wonder if it was the same time as I did?

  • tytourville

    I believe the issue of unpaid internships stems back to the basic idea that architects around the world have devalued the profession in total. This lowers wages across the board and makes it difficult to take on new graduates who have little experience, and thus would be quite expensive to pay for work.

    At least in the US, this is a really big issue. I know I would never take an unpaid internship because I simply would not be able to support myself without an income (no matter how prestigious the opportunity). Again, if we as architects were able to sell ourselves and the profession better to the rest of the world, our importance would increase and as a result, so would the wages. Only then would architects be able to pay all their interns a decent wage.

    • Getoverit

      Very good. Let’s move away from the Dezeen instigated Fujimoto/Japan bashing to the real issue at hand: we as a profession are to blame.

      If I call my lawyer the clock starts ticking the moment he picks up the phone. The bill will arrive no later than two days afterwards. Nobody would ever question that.

      But we architects are willing to sell ourselves in order to best competitors. No wonder people have lost all respect for our work and are not willing to pay properly anymore.

    • dmuir

      I was also thinking along those lines. Here in NYC, law firms fight over recent graduates. Well, they used to? And they pay, out of school, what an architect might get after ten years.

      Due respect to lawyers, but architects are seriously underrated in the commercial world. The compensation problem is somewhat more insidious than underpaid interns.

      Firms need better fees from their clients so they can pay proper wages at all levels. A few percent for a building… to last 50+ years? Then a broker gets that for handling (?) a deal… with little overhead, no experienced highly educated staff, no liability.

      This problem needs to be taken up the food chain. Professionals shouldn’t bid for jobs. But we all do. Imagine sending out a RFP to orthodontists?

      Having said all that, exploiting young architects is wrong. I could go on and on. Some of the best ideas in good firms come from fresh minds. Some firms sustain that group just to trigger new ideas.

      This is a good thread. Rekindled some ideas. Competitions are indeed a problem.

      Maybe a compromise can be found. A fair wage and benefits for an eight hour day. But stay on as long as you want if you want to be in the heart of design discussions. That’s how it was in Canada in the 1980s and there were lots of over-nighters. But there were regular bi-weekly pay cheques.

      There are persistent rumors in NY, that I can’t substantiate), that a few really prestigious “elite” design firms were paid by the intern. This perpetuates it’s the origins as a gentlemen’s profession. Only the rich need apply. Often the qualification for a masters degree, BTW.

  • the sun

    It is interesting to see Dezeen stabbing Sou Fujimoto in the back for the sake of its own popularity. This populism is way off objective journalism.

    First of all it lacks any background information about the educational, cultural and social differences between the Japanese educational system and the current debate in the UK. Secondly I doubt that Sou Fujimoto is aware of these differences and the outcry his perspective would provoke in the UK.

    For Dezeen to confront Sou Fujimoto about this matter at this occasion is just shameless (more though, considering Dezeen’s own history of un-paid internships) and seems more like a trap than critical journalism.

    Yes, I lost my respect – for Dezeen.

    • TTT

      You mean to say Sou has no idea that other people might object to unpaid work? Interesting. Tell me more of your theories…

    • Desk

      Yeah, go and read another blog, with your head up your ***. Who cares about your worship of SF. anything more than this is just starchitect/star designer worship.

      Dezeen was just asking valid questions. It is good to question. That’s what designers should always do. The rich needs to start paying their dues. Tired of the well-off getting away with everything, this starts from the very top.

      Once you have a name and become famous, elistist rich folks who want to hire your brand name should pay their dues, so this culture of crap isn’t spread across the board.

      • Desk what?

        If you are determined and talented enough, you can make it anywhere. If not, don’t try to blame others.

        Anyone can agree to work for free or not. Easy choice – if you don’t want to prove yourself you don’t have to. Keep on crying.

      • Wtf

        On the dole and frustrated? Work harder, mate!

  • http://Www.moroso.it Mirko Vdw

    Students should gain experience while studying doing different short internships, helping them to prepare for their professional career. It makes sense to me not to pay for such internships; they cost companies anyway and are not normally bringing (much) back. It’s rather a social obligation to engage in that.

    Once a person has graduated, it has to be supposed that he/she is capable to start contributing, to create value, so they should be paid for that, just like the cleaning lady. In most civilised countries there are laws protecting the cleaning lady, guaranteeing a minimum income. Those laws also apply to people who have studied for 4 or more years to graduate, I suppose?

    So, how come young architects and designers are so often underpaid if paid at all? Too many people studying with too few workplaces available enables employers to not pay the “lucky” ones who find a place behind a desk?

    If you pay peanuts, you treat them like monkeys, if you pay nothing, you treat them like slaves. There is no excuse for that, surely not the stupid, static “that’s the way things are”. Thinking like that women still couldn’t vote, black people would still be slaves in many countries. Shame on those who do, compliments for becoming human to those who stop it.

  • Alana

    Unpaid internships- another way to ensure the wealthy elite monopolise the industry. God forbid actually trying encourage people from a diverse array of backgrounds. Let’s not even entertain the idea of making the creative industries accessible to anyone unable to support themselves unwaged and of course without being allowed any statutory benefits.

    I suppose you can always get 2 jobs if you can’t afford it, as long as you make sure at least one is minimum wage.

  • JMA

    Unpaid internships make architecture elitist. Period.

  • jay

    Doesn’t help when leading architecture schools send out emails to students on behalf of practices offering these so called opportunities.

  • Steve D

    Elsewhere in Dezeen, the president of the RIBA says she deplores “any architects treating students in this way”. This must only apply to fee-paying members because the RIBA gave Sou Fujimoto an honorary fellowship in 2011. If they are so set against unpaid internships why did they do this?

    On a seperate note, thank you Dezeen for raising it in the first place.

  • http://www.petervanderveer.com Peter van der Veer

    If internship is both parties with positive goals and equitable attitudes, the mutual outcome is always positive.

    I have been involved in unpaid internships regularly throughout the last 40 years as an intern myself on a number of occasions, as a supervisor for employers or associates, and often having interns in my private practice.

    The results are always positive. They vastly accelerate long-term professional gains and also establish lifelong collaboration and friendships.

    If people only know negative attitudes and consequently project doubt, they will prevent themselves having wonderful lifelong relationships of professional trust and ongoing collaboration that keeps on creating opportunities for all parties.

  • Cubasur

    That nagging feeling of powerlessness that will architects have for the rest of their professional lives starts right here. Respect your own.

  • http://www.working-models.com Roberto Requejo

    Unpaid internships are only accessible to those who area wealthy enough to work for free. It prevents unwealthy students from having access to the enriching and unique experiences that renowned practices can offer. I believe that unpaid internships are exploitative and any architecture office that follows the practice should be ashamed.

  • lissy

    Paid internships can not work in all contexts as payment assumes that the intern offers the company an asset greater than the required training investment.

    As an american designer living and teaching in India for six years, design students regularly pass through the door begging for an unpaid internship and I often say no as it will require more of my time to train them than the extra hand is worth.

    There are millions of occasions when companies provide free education to interns so perhaps there is a need to acknowledge that this is a limited discourse not of a global context.

  • ha!

    I could work naked as well. And I am a very good looking young woman.

    You face should fall to the floor due to your lack of respect for new graduates. You are not giving us any training… we know how to make models. It is an opportunity FOR YOU. You spend zero money on people that draw and make models for you. That’s called “slaves”. And people like you, shameless.

  • Phil Bernstein

    I teach professional practice at a school of architecture in the US, where our students graduate with terrific training but significant student loans. While it’s pretty well understood that asking interns to work for free is unethical in the US and the UK, apparently Japan’s professional community has no such concern.

    As long as Mr. Fujimoto uses interns on paid projects they are contributing to his pocketbook directly while assuming the complete cost of doing so themselves. I will counsel my students to take Japan off their list of first jobs if this tradition of “open desks” – which is just free labor – continues.

    Architects, who purport to serve the social good, should not do so by such exploitation.

  • Noway

    Please do not come to Japan to steal jobs from the Japanese! Otherwise, soon they might start to make you pay to do internships (irony).

  • Alex

    One should not call Mr Fujimoto an ‘idiot’ (SYoon). What can be asked: why do so many architects today need piles and piles of models? Frank Lloyd Wright had all in his head. And he gave his interns a place to live, a social and cultural life, and the opportunity to develop their own architecture.

  • Mike

    Architects work for free already. Why does this attitude surprise anyone? When at school I’ve heard the same bs from partners at major firms. I bet if you added-up the average architect’s actual hours for any given project, their hourly wage would be well below minimum wage.

    The entire profession needs to be revamped. I could have become a medical doctor in less time and actually contributed to society in a meaningful way while earning 10x as much. In North America, only the practitioners, the rich and academics care about architecture. I know project architects in world class firms earning $65K/year and putting-in between 50-60 hrs a week – what a joke. They’ll be living pay cheque to pay check until death.

    • Stencil

      That’s sad but unfortunately true.

  • dan

    Sou’s architecture is naive, lacks depth and is overrated due to our media culture. Nothing much to learn from him! Non-paid internship!? Not worth it!

  • Joshua

    I went to Japan as an “open desk” and learnt heaps in five months. Due to the large number of free workers the companies can facilitate, it’s very easy for foreigners and Japanese to work at a big Japanese office. I don’t have very rich parents and I didn’t get a scholarship. Instead I chose not to party and go wild the year before and after my internship. And it was definetly worth it.

  • dmuir

    “Open desk” may not be the same as “internship”. We may have translation issues. In the early 1980s in Canada, on the West Coast, our firm had a standing arrangement with the SoA in Waterloo (1500 miles away) to accept one student per semester.

    Waterloo was tri-semester so someone always sat at that desk. They were recommended by faculty, and were likely offered a full-time position when they graduated. Not always accepted. They were paid a stipend and the school helped to coordinate travel and accommodations. I don’t think the motivation was to take advantage of the student, but to give back to the profession. If every office indulged in this the new graduates would actually be more employable.

    Incidentally, as the years went by, I always admired the people from Waterloo for their well-rounded approach. Even now I find research on their website useful, especially regarding sustainable construction useful. Not my school ;-)

  • James

    There are massive differences between:

    1) Offices that are revenue-generating and CAN afford to pay interns and do.

    2) Offices that are revenue-generating and CAN afford to pay interns but choose not to.

    3) Offices that CANNOT afford to pay interns, but could if they managed themselves better.

    4) Offices that CANNOT afford to pay interns and don’t because they only do competitions and don’t yet make any money.

    While I did a year at a type 1 office, I then worked for free at a type 4 office and learnt more than I did in college and without doubt have been more shaped from that internship than college. It was a competition office that could not afford to pay that I found on Dezeen and let me get WAY deeper than my nicely paid internship, where I got to lead projects, shape their outcome and be part of a small team that was regularly covered by the international press.

    Now that the office is more established with revenue, they can afford to pay and do which is great to see them grow. But I have no regrets of working at the early point of this office. I didn’t learn nearly as much from my paid internship. My unpaid internship was the cheapest education I ever did.

    The problem is not type 1 offices and not type 4 offices. It’s the two in the middle.

  • Nicole

    I see the intellectual maturity of the Dezeen community is in full force here.

    Disagree with popular sentiment and receive an automatic thumbs down and sneering condemnation, even if you try to provide a nuanced and substantiated argument. A point of view that doesn’t conform to my own? The horror! Unlike!

    If a person feels that he or she had benefited from an unpaid internship and gladly entered into one, then he or she has the right to feel that it was an enriching experience. Stop telling people how to live their lives.

    Also, as mentioned above, the rush into hasty judgment seems to be a nervous tic here. It was refreshing to read about the open desk policy in Japan. That certainly adds more cultural nuance to the discussion, even if I still disagree with the practice of unpaid internships ultimately.

    Lastly, attacking the architecture of Fujimoto to supposedly void his opinion since his skill and talent are put into question sounds like playground bickering instead of effective debate. Neener neener. And boycotting the serpentine pavilion to “get back at him”? Seems like the capacity for imagination of children. I still watch Roman Polanski films even if I think he’s a criminal.

    I bet most of the commenters here are Caucasian and live in the Western world. It reeks of self-righteousness, cultural blindness, narcissism and victim mentality.

    • Stencil

      Well you are completely wrong about Roman Polanski being a criminal (being a self-righteous western woman might contribute to that I assume?) but you are right to still watch his films. Enjoy your zero thumbs up. Everything else was spot on.

      • Nicole

        Unfortunately, I don’t live by the number of thumbs-up I receive. And it’s rather presumptuous to assume that I’m a Western woman. The West does not have a monopoly on the English language or commenting on design blogs. I also don’t condemn Polanski on moral grounds but on legal ones. He committed a crime and has to serve a sentence.

  • dmuir

    …another thought, after sleeping on it. Here in NYC the unemployment rate in the architectural profession in the last few years has been staggering. Way above the national or regional rate across typical businesses.

    After the sub-prime debacle, construction financing and all associated business collapsed. I’m not able to verify it, but it would not be unreasonable to speculate as high as 25%. And even higher if you consider only new graduates… coming out of school, often with debt, and no prospects in their chosen profession. Their were zero opportunities.

    So, do these newly minted architectural aspirants look for work in some other discipline… in a depressed economy; maybe the food service industry (bar tending)? Or, do they carry on with their career development by working for free, depending upon (most often) the family as they did in school. Traveling after college is a tradition. Maybe working in an office in another culture is more meaningful than sitting on a beach on the mediterranean? Just sayin’.

    However, while assessing value for the work and providing learning opportunities is complicated when language is a limitation, it’s SHAMEFUL, unconscionable, and probably illegal, to exploit anyone, especially when the product is useful.

    I find using this labour force to polish presentations for competitions particularly despicable. Regardless of your opinion of competitions, this means name firms get free resources and an unfair advantage. Fancy presentations win over good ideas.

    • smack

      I can tell you that based on my research, in the state of New York, if a student or intern is doing work for which you are billing a client, they are not only entitled to a fair wage but they’re entitled to time and a half overtime for every hour over 40 hours. Even if they’re “just a student”, even if they’re on a J1 Visa or something.

      The only reliable way you can get out of paying an intern is if their position, as an entirely educational one, meets six factors set out by the government. The most important factor, and the one often broken, is “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.” i.e. can’t bill a client for it.

      I’m really tired of seeing classmates get co-op jobs in New York where they’re merely paid weekly stipends while working long hours on weekends and evenings. Plus, a company is really opening itself up to some problems if it ignores this, in my mind.

  • dmuir

    Full disclosure, I have had two experiences with unpaid interns here in NYC.

    1. A girl from Switzerland interviewed with us and to our surprise she offered to work for free. This wasn’t our culture and at first, it was difficult to recognize her intent. Although she may not have been our first choice, her insistence made it easier to accept. She was scheduled to come back a few months later for the summer.

    In the interim, our work load changed and we were forced to make some layoffs. Even though the girl was able to work for free we felt it would be inappropriate, bad for morale, to bring in anyone new. We notified the girl with a few weeks notice. Here’s the significant part. We got a call from her distressed father.

    2. In another circumstance, while working on a competition with no real budget, I got a request from a client to help his nephew find summer work (required by his college). The client knew about the competition and when a job was not available, he coerced me into giving the nephew, who wanted to be in NYC, an unpaid internship.

    The kid had lots of talent but wasn’t very interested in collaboration and, being under-paid, was under-motivated. His hours were erratic and work product inconsistent. Coaching him took more time and effort than it was worth. He was more of a burden than an asset. I regretted the decision almost immediately, but because of the ongoing relationship with the client, I endured this kid for the duration of the summer.

    My inability to engage him may have been a reflection on my technique, but I think he was here for the city, not for the professional experience. So even when you don’t believe in unpaid internships, it can bite you.

  • zxcv

    If there are students who want to work even unpaid, why do they need to employ with paying? Their works are paid with their interesting experience and their useful connections, money is not always everything.

    When architect offices pay also for them, and still want to keep the current quality, just it means, the price of architecture gets higher.

  • John B

    Unpaid internships are the right of the privileged. Sou should be utterly ashamed of himself.

  • Aveclaudenum

    The students taking these unpaid internships are just as much to blame as the firms that exploit them. Shame on the students for fueling this exploitation fire and shame on the firms that do the exploiting.

  • http://twitter.com/Dezeen @Dezeen

    Meanwhile over in the US, architecture firm SHoP has spoken out against unpaid internships:
    http://www.architizer.com/en_us/blog/dyn/89284/ex

    Rose/Dezeen

    • cass.

      Thank you for posting this interview, and the site of SHoP’s words.

      Although many offices in EU, and USA have become better in treating young architects, not even a discussion has come up in Japan. As a young architect in Japan, I believe that this is a big issue.

      The most worrying point is however, that many Japanese (young and old) do not even have a conscious awareness of this problem. It is about time to be recognized that “unpaid internship” should NOT be common in architecture world.

      Thank you again.

  • Chris

    Dear Mr. Fujimoto. I would like to have a nice and special house in the Netherlands. I would like you to design it and build it. And I want you to do it for free.

    I am a top class architect who is running his own business, which takes a lot of time and effort. The people I work with have to be paid, so I have to spend my money on those hard working people, but please feel free to start on this lifetime opportunity, Mr. Fujimoto!

    For your information, I will be very critical of your design proposals, so no nine to five mentality, please. It has to be really good. Otherwise it is a waste of time for me to look at your proposals. Mr. Fujimoto, why are you still reading? Hop, hop… get started! Best regards, Chris.

  • SWH

    I have lost all respect for you Sou. You have a much louder voice than most in the architecture world and as a young architect you should be pushing to change the culture and stand up for young architects instead you conform to the traditional outdated model of thinking. You are in a position to help move the profession forward and you choose not to. To my fellow young architects and designers: stand up for yourself and NEVER take a job that doesn’t pay. We have worked to hard to get where we are and WE need to change the culture of unpaid internships forever. It starts with us, not with conformist, greedy exploiters like Sou.

  • cass.

    Thank you for posting this interview, and the site of SHoP’s words. Although many offices in EU, and USA have become better in treating young architects, not even a discussion has come up in Japan. As a young architect in Japan, I believe that this is a big issue.

    The most worrying point is however, that many Japanese (young and old) do not even have a conscious awareness of this problem. It is about time that people recognize,
    this kind of treatment should NOT be a common sense, or justice in architecture world.

  • Maria Clara

    PFFF. “We couldn’t provide such an opportunity for students or younger people to gain experience in [...] architecture.”

    It’s like he’s doing us a favour. All the work interns do is making money for him, so minimum wage is simply what’s fair.

    Plus living in Japan is unbelievable expensive.

    I’m doing mine in Switzerland and even though it is a really expensive country, you can make enough money to live and even to travel.

    The opportunity would be for WEALTHY STUDENTS who can afford it. As regular students we are poor and some scholarships are not always an option.

  • LB

    Just more of the same. Students who can afford to do unpaid work will continue to get ahead. Students who have to choose their internships based on supporting themselves will be at a disadvantage.

    The rich continue to have better opportunities than the rest of us. Japan, just because you haven’t “started having the conversation yet” doesn’t mean that you are somehow above it. Even in Japan, young people should not be exploited.