This is the second addition to the Case Study Series by our designer Michael A. Thomas, a noted author, teacher and experienced designer who knows his way around the design centers. Enjoy.
Designers are basically an affable bunch. I should know, having spent a quarter of a century volunteering for my professional society, ASID, the American Society Of Interior Designers. And in those years, I have met many congenial types from those who do office environments to retail spaces, from residential remodels to historic preservation.
But the one thing that they have in common with me is the little things that clients (and potential clients) tell us that just drive us totally nuts. So here is my list. And please forgive me if you are a client and you recognize yourself.
• Number one on the list is when a client says during the last of the first interview, “You know, if you design this project for me at no charge, I will tell everyone I know that you’re the best designer in town.”
My response: “Well, thanks but no thanks. First of all, we are not a non-profit design organization. While we are designers, we are first + foremost a business that is expected to pay its bills on time, hire people to contribute to the local + national economy + over time build a reputable reputation on consistency, quality and service. We can’t do that if we don’t make a reasonable return on our investment. But we certainly do appreciate the offer.
√ N e x t .
• Number two. And I know all designers have heard this.
“I can’t make up my mind but I will know it when I see it.”
My Response: “Then keep looking because you won’t want to pay me if I keep looking. Seriously, I do appreciate your thoughtulness but please. You’ve seen my work, portfolio and seemed to like it. The references you checked on were impeccable. And you have hired me to pull it all together. Trust your initial instincts and let me do my job. That one piece you can’t decide upon is part of a whole, not an individual piece. I would not have made this recommendation if it would not have worked.”
√ N E X T .
• Number three is a real kicker. We want to jump out of our skins and rip our hair out when a client says, . . .
“My sister-in-law’s maid has a real keen eye for design and she suggests that a darker color on the walls will make the space seem more romantic. What do you think?”
My response: “How wonderful that your sister-in-law can afford to have a maid. And one with such good taste. Perhaps you should be asking her for more details about her design expertise. Maybe she might be looking for additional work. I know someone who has 5 kids, three dogs, two cats and one mouse and really needs their house cleaned and decorated in the worst way.”
√ N E X T !
• Number four is a killer remark.
“I want to have my house look just like this picture in Architectural Digest.”
“No, you don’t. It should look like you and not some gaudy space that was staged for the photo shoot and doesn’t reflect anything more than how much money was spent gilding the walls, faux finishing the lamps, glitzing the tables and painting anything else that doesn’t move. And if you continue to look at those voyeur home décor magazines, I may fire you as a client.”
√ N E X T !! !!
• Number 5. And stop me if you have heard this one already.
“ I was watching HG-TV and they got this room done in under $500 and just in 24 hours. What is taking you so long to finish my project?”
“I have had a lot of problems lately. My glue gun over-heated. My staple gun jammed. The painter didn’t show that you hired in the first place. The clear vinyl to cover your davenport melted in the sun. And I ran out of the little purple dangly ball fringe that I was going to put around the bottom on your lampshade.
And besides, your fired.”
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, 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.