Pinterest for Architects

Bob Borson —  February 27, 2012 — 29 Comments

Pinterest Logo

Unless you’ve had your head under a rock or extremely slow to discover new things, you have probably heard of Pinterest. One of the latest entries into the world of social networking, Pinterest is a website that allows users to collect web-based images and assemble them by some common topic (like “fireplaces” or “waffles”). It is an easy to use site that isn’t just geared towards design professionals – everybody is getting on board (get it? board…? like a pin or tack …. never mind).

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Bob Borson on Pinterest

The beauty of Pinterest is that you can collect the images you find without having to do any real work – just “pin” an image using a “pinmarklet” (something that you add to your web browsers tool bar) and you’re done. You have the ability to sort and notate the images in any manner that makes sense to you, I have mine sorted into categories like:

  • Materials
  • Hardware
  • Plumbing
  • Furniture
  • Lighting
  • and so on … I think you get the idea.

You can have as many boards as you like and the images retain the URL source from where you found them so no longer do you have to download web images or create a special bookmark for a site just because you want to remember a certain product, material, or whatever.

Genius.

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Pinterest pins from Life of an Architect

The image above is a screen shot of some of my pins and you can see that I have added notes trying to explain or identify what it is that I pinned for the benefit of others who come across my boards. For the most part – among those that actually use this site with regularity, I have hardly any pins at all. In fact, since I showed it to my wife, she has way more pins that I do … and now my daughter has her own Pinterest boards (but they are full of cute baby animal photos – just what you would expect from a happy 7-year-old girl).

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Pinterest Pin from Life of an Architect

This is a screen shot of a close up look at a single pinned item with its description. You can see that there is an image, a description, and then identifying information like where did the image come from, where is it organized, the images popularity among other “pinners” (people who pin – I don’t know if they have a handle yet, “pinners” seemed like a pretty safe guess). Another very cool thing is that I can see what people have found and pinned from my site – www.lifeofanarchitect.com (as if you didn’t know). Take a look at the bottom right-hand corner of the image above and you can see the last 5 images that people “pinned”.

Another very cool item is that I have a few clients who are now on Pinterest, and when they find an image to help explain what they like, or a material or product they want to use/discuss, I can go visit their Pinterest boards and see it. Gone are the days of the giant box of magazine cutouts that clients used to bring into the office during design meetings. A small down-side to this is now that it’s so easy to find images online to “pin”, that some clients pin like a billion things and the process of distilling what it’s their head down into a more concise vision takes a little longer.

There are some other fringe benefits is you are a design professional … I recently read that in January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Youtube combined. For most of the people walking around out there, who cares about driving traffic anywhere (and I can’t blame you) but for you architects, interior designers and other design professionals, this is a great way for people to see more than just one image from your site and you are helping people out by assembling relevant and interesting information in a single spot for them to see. For example, I have started a board titled “Hardware” and on it is my favorite (and most often specified) door hardware for passage, lockset, sliding  … even pocket doors. I could keep this information to myself but this sort of data is not what makes me a good architect, I am happy to share what I have learned with people.

Pinterest has only been around since mid 2010 but reportedly had 11.7 million unique users in January of 2012 – making it the fastest site in history to break the 10 million user mark. That is an amazing feat.

There are some downsides to Pinterest, some more readily apparent to the hard-core users but the only one that I can come up with at this point (and with my level of usage) is that everything I pin is available for anyone to see. I know what your thinking … porn – and you would be wrong (family man here). I would like to be able to put together boards for specific projects and only allow particular users to see them – like the client for which the boards were intended. I have no doubt that it’s a feature that will show up before too long.

So go check it out – you will have to “apply” for entrance but it’s a simple process and I don’t know anyone who was ever rejected. If you are already on Pinterest and have some insights to share, I would love to hear them. And while you’re at it …

Follow Me on Pinterest

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*** UPDATE**

Everyone should go and read this article written by photographer AND Lawyer Alyson Shontell for the Business Insider. It talks about the copyright exposure issues users of Pinterest could experience if they aren’t careful.

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  • Wayne

    Why don’t you post your projects on Pinterest?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Wayne,
      That is a great question, but there are several reasons.
      1) I only like to post either my pictures or ones that have made so many rounds that the owner or photographer is unknown.
      2) since Life of an Architect is my personal site, I tend to treat all the related sites as mine as well – that means limiting the photos from projects that my firm does (where I work, since I am not an “owner”)
      3) time. I think it’s a great tool but I have to pick how I spend my time and pinterest falls into the “when I have completed 800 other things” category.

      Hope that answers your question.

      Cheers,
      Bob

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  • MNiDesigner

    That’s a great idea , Bob. Why not?  Especially to communicate with those clients who like more ‘eye candy’.  I’m a busy interior designer —  I just wish I had the time to do it!

  • Rick_Nelson

    interesting post, bob – almost as interesting as this: http://www.businessinsider.com/pinterest-copyright-issues-lawyer-2012-2

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      hah – I have already updated my post to provide a link to this very article. Claire Conroy, the Editor at Residential Architect, shared that link with me via LinkedIn. After reading it, I had to come back here to my post and update things.

      If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I don’t know everything.

  • Edmis

    from first look pinterest is more hobby and eyecandy related site (A report says that 97% of people who are using the pinterest on Facebook are female).
    A few months back i came across similar site – zootool. It has private/public setings for sharing. and also is more art/design oriented

  • Richard

    We discovered Pinterest when it was still new to the web. Since then, we’ve used it to collect information for our clients to look through so they can show us what it is they want in their home design. Everything from style of home, to the material they want used on a fireplace. It’s a very handy tool that goes a long way to saving us time per client in the design process. One thing I really like about it is that it gives credit to the host site and if people want they can follow their nose to even more information that my staff may not have collected. I would go as far as to say it is my favourite site for doing my job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brodiegeers Brodie Geers

    It looks like a great website but as of now you have to request an invite rather than simply being able to sign up.  I received an email to let me know I’m on a ‘waiting list.’  A bit disappointing.  

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I wouldn’t worry to much about that – my 7 year old went through the same process and received the okay in just moments.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brodiegeers Brodie Geers

        At the very least the process seems to have lengthened quite a bit then.  I received the ‘wait list’ email a day an a half ago.  I’ll try to remember to report back whenever I hear back.

        • http://www.facebook.com/brodiegeers Brodie Geers

          I just got my invite.  So for those out there who just signed up, it seems to be taking a bit more than a day and a half right now.  Can’t wait to get started. :)

  • http://pinterest.com/jackbarnes/ Jack

    I’m a big fan of Pinterest, and have been encouraging my clients to set up boards for their projects. I’ve also been thinking of setting up boards for specific projects so that I could share ideas for specific clients — I’ve used dedicated blogs for this in the past.

    I don’t mind if others pin images from my sites, especially since it sends some traffic in my direction. But when I’m pinning I always try to locate the original source for an image, and link back to them or give credit in the notes. If I can’t find the original (what I call the “tumblr rabbit hole”) then I’ll just ‘Like’ the photo so that I can at least find it again later.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Jack,,
      That sounds like a sound strategy and one that I would follow. I appreciate you sharing your insight.

      cheers

  • http://www.hawkinsarch.com/ Andrew Hawkins

    There are tons of copyright issues here. But I hope that it can be worked out in some manner. It is a useful application and I enjoy using it. I think the addition of some “visibility” filters would be very nice. I have wanted that from the beginning. That is one reason why I limit my pins at times. I dont need everyone knowing what I like to eat or drink, etc. Those are really for my eyes only. I do think the platform has multiple levels of uses. I try to only pin from original source, but sometimes that is difficult. You often have to view only the image in order to pin, depending on how the site is set up. I really want to give credit to those who deserve it. That is imperative. I would expect/want the same treatment for anything that I created….

  • http://www.hawkinsarch.com/ Andrew Hawkins

    There are tons of copyright issues here. But I hope that it can be worked out in some manner. It is a useful application and I enjoy using it. I think the addition of some “visibility” filters would be very nice. I have wanted that from the beginning. That is one reason why I limit my pins at times. I dont need everyone knowing what I like to eat or drink, etc. Those are really for my eyes only. I do think the platform has multiple levels of uses. I try to only pin from original source, but sometimes that is difficult. You often have to view only the image in order to pin, depending on how the site is set up. I really want to give credit to those who deserve it. That is imperative. I would expect/want the same treatment for anything that I created….

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      agree

  • lisa league

    After looking at the stats of one of my sites where traffic (more than 1000 visits per month) from Pinterest is second only to Google search, and more than Facebook – I think the benefits of Pinterest outweigh the risk that some of the content will may be misattributed.  

    • ADBurt

      I agree!  I think anything you put out there on the internet is bound to get taken and used without credit at some point… There are far more egregious abuses of people’s copyright than Pinterest (like this: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/funnyjunk ).  This is and will always be a touchy subject, and a vast majority of the population is completely unaware of it. Used correctly, I think Pinterest is a wonderful way for blogs, products, artists… to get traffic to their website.

  • Valerie Short

    I love Pinterest as well.  I’ve been using it about 2 months and not only for work.  There are some great recipes if you are on a specific eating program (low fat, low carb, or just amazing desserts), work out tips.

    I do agree with what Gordon said and would like the ability to only pin from the source — which makes my sourcing much easier when I see something I like that was already pinned by someone else.  But in the meantime, I am enjoying “pin ups” in a virtual world!  It will be interesting to see how this gets translated when still in school.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      there are still a lot of moving points to consider here and Gordon makes a good one. Since I started, I have amended my behaviour on Pinterest and I only include pins from the original source – I don’t repin from others. 

  • Gordon

    There are a lot of pintrest etiquette guidelines you haven’t mentioned Bob. 

    According to Pintrest’s own CEO. “99% of all users of our service are violating the terms of service”. One the biggest gripes is that you are supposed to own the material you are pinning or have permission from the site you are pinning to do so.

    And Pintrest has released code that allows sites to add to their coding, that keeps people from being able to pin. Many sites like blogspot are rumored to be adding this code to their root coding that would make any blog on blogspot not available for pinning.

    I have yet to implement the code on my own website. The problem comes in when someone pins a picture and just a picture without linking to the whole article or site that originally posted it. You see the picture and copy the idea. What about the original creator of that work? Pinning “bought items” seems to be safe for now. I’ve been following a number of articles that discuss the legal implications of pintrest on copyright holders. Just use caution.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      I read an article on this point yesterday but decided that I didn’t want that to be the focus of this article. I will go and take a look for it and see if I can find it (should have “pinned” it). If I am successful in locating it, I will come back and amend this comment to include the link.

      Thanks

      • lisa league

        Bob, I think the article you and Gordon mentioned might be this one:

        http://greekgeek.hubpages.com/hub/Is-Pinterest-a-Haven-for-Copyright-Violations

        • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

          that wasn’t it but it’s the same message – there seems to be a flood of these articles that have surfaced lately. Thanks for doing my leg work for me!

        • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

          that wasn’t it but it’s the same message – there seems to be a flood of these articles that have surfaced lately. Thanks for doing my leg work for me!