In his first of a series we are calling Case Study: Design Is Important, Michael A. Thomas, FASID explores the harsh reality of designing spaces.
During an initial interview with a client, I was asked about the role an interior designer might play in a remodel of a condo she was purchasing. Her questions were typical of a client who had never before worked with a designer.
• What is our design philosophy?
It is very often clean and basic, with textured neutral backgrounds that create the best interiors when punched up with hits of color, pattern, art and accessories.
• What types of projects have we been doing?
Three decades of practice provide a range of experience and expertise, from residential new construction and remodeling, to historic preservation and boutique country clubs.
• Do we have a portfolio of work to be reviewed?
Yes, of course. It is located online in our three websites.
During our conversation, she admitted that she often bounces from one part of the job to another, making decisions when needed but often without a frame of reference, and jumping to other parts of the project without a single focus.
What was clear was her concern that at the end of the day, at the close of the project, the whole space would not hang together well and that critical details would be overlooked. This is often the result when no master plan has been established.
While it appeared that she is was doing a bang-up job in pulling together a lot of the work, she indicated a need for someone to reel her back in from time to time and perhaps help her avoid mistakes that cause delays and cost money. In other words, the desire for someone to develop a vision and establish a strategy to get the job done.
So I told her that the role of an interior designer is actually simple:
• Help the client define the dream.
• Communicate in drawings and written instructions the design intent.
• Help manage the process.
The analogy that I also often use to describe the process is when one goes to a doctor. The doctor will ask questions, identify what is wrong and will then write a prescription to make it all better. The master plan of an Interior Designer is a prescription. And a good client (i.e. patient) will be able to follow it as a path to a successful environment.
There is also an additional consideration. Knowing that design is so very important, people will become deeply stressed over the simplest of details, delaying the work and derailing the project for fear of making a mistake. This can result in a measure of chaos.
And designers can actually get stressed for the same reason. Designers do know the important role design plays in ones life.
For me, I am also reminded of the following.
• Design, of all types, both good and bad, impacts the human existence.
• Good design influences human behaviors for the good.
• But great design inspires the human experience and lifts spirits.
So I gave her some advice as we concluded our time together.
First take a deep breath. Take a step back. Take a moment to return to “the dream.”
Keep in mind that if the small details are so critical, imagine how important it is to have a master plan in place when making the big decisions. And a design plan, specifications and strategies do one thing.
• It ensures a great design outcome rather than chaos. . . Because chaos is a bitch.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Springs, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.