Residence overlooking downtown Providence, RI for a wonderful client.
In this fourth edition of Case Studies, Michael takes a more serious tone about interior design. Recently, he completed a quick interview with a local publication about design and he offered his advice about design of interiors. Here is what he had to say about his profession and practice. And the writer's questions were great.
• What is the most important value a designer brings to a project and a client?
Whether remodeling or building from scratch, I believe it is the skill to affect the utilization of space. We see many spaces, small and large, that don’t function as they should. And good design, at its core, is about the function.
• What is the difference between interior decoration and an interior design?
Decoration and design both contribute to the success of a room. "Decoration" generally addresses the finishes, i.e. the fabrics, colors, finishes and how spaces will visually appear. Without great decoration, spaces will fall flat.
"Design" begins by considering broader issues, visualized in the three dimensions, such as how spaces relate to one another and how they will function when completed. And the process of design includes accurate drawings such as scaled plans and detailed specifications to help others carefully execute the vision the design professional has created for the client.
• What should clients ask a design professional in the initial interview?
Two things: • First, “If this were your own home, what are the three most important things that need to be considered.” • Second, ask to see projects that were the most successful interpretations to a problem solved, not necessarily ones photographed for the designer’s resume, but successful for the client and then ask “Why.”
• What are the design trends we should be considering?
Good design is not about fashion, such as the “color du jour”, or the recent trends of style. It is about creating ways to help recycle, reuse and re-purpose what we have. And it is about making spaces that adapt over time, especially ones that help clients age-in-place.
• What is the most important thing learned after 3 decades of practice?
The most important and critical step is to create plans and not just floor plans. It is project management. • Lay out strategies for executing the job; • Establish a base line of criteria to ensure client needs are being met; • Check in with the client as the project evolves; and • Address in a timely manner the challenges that occur in all work of this nature. Planning provides focus and establishes a frame of reference during the course of the job. And the more complex the design, the greater the need to plan and plot, visualize the outcomes thru the drawings and specifications. It is all in the details.
• What’s the absolute best project you have worked on?
There isn’t one single best but there have been a few favorites because of the client, the location and/or the challenge. Four do quickly come to mind:
• An Ocean front guest house that was built directly over the dunes of the Atlantic Ocean.
• Preservation and restoration of a historic family home built in 1942 on Jupiter Island, FL.
• A full remodel of a New Jersey Penthouse, 41st floor overlooking Manhattan, NY.
• One very spectacular contemporary house on a hillside in Providence, RI.
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.