In these days it is hard for consumers to differentiate one business from another. One promises personalized services, while another offers an amazing sale. And then again, yet another one says they can have it product delivered with free shipping. It can be confusing to make the choice with whom to do business.
And when it comes to figuring out what design firm to hire or even if you need or want an interior designer, it just isn't always easy. And we get that.
Take for instance, Hilton and Marriott Hotels. Both strive to offer their guests a quality experience and expectation. Same thing with Delta and American Airlines. What often sets these businesses apart is often a the choice of “location, location, location”.
Consider Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Both grocers say their unique selection and quality goods keeps customers coming back. Each has created a strong brand and a loyal following. It may be hard to compare them in the marketplace, though Trader Joe’s is now whopping Whole Foods butt with very competitive pricing. So consumer choice could be about price.
What about the difference between Ford and Toyota? Both produce equally reliable vehicles with lots of price points. Making a choice of one SUV over the other is often about the style and design.
Recently we were invited to freshen up a New Jersey project in a high rise building overlooking Manhattan, a residence that we had fully renovated for a the client in 2002. And it got us to thinking about what motivated the client to return to us for this work.
In contemplating those thoughts, we concluded it was a choice,… that this client believes their interior design experience would again be rewarding and successful as it had in the past. Sure, it is the expectation of good service and quality design and competitive price, but beyond that, what factors sets set us apart from the pack? We put pencil to paper and came up with these five things that set us apart.
1. We Are Practical In Our Design And Organized In Our Projects
The design of an interior is first and foremost about function. If a space doesn’t do what is intended, then no matter how good it may look, it will at some point be a failure. So we work hard to make sure that the design we offer has practicality built into its DNA. And for a project to be successful, ordered, checked on, delivered and installed, it has to be organized and managed well.
We spend a lot of time documenting, communicating, explaining, cajoling and it shows at the time of installation. Nothing ever works like clockwork in this profession. It is how you handle the unexpected that can determine the success of the project and one has to be organized to manage those challenging times.
2. We Do Not Follow The Trends; We Follow The Clients
Trends in design are deadly because if you get caught up in a certain style and it falls out of favor, the interior will appear dated in a short period of time. Think about past designs like harvest gold appliances, lava lamps and paisley-printed recliners covered in Herculon fabric. OK… perhaps I am showing my age as a mid-century modern baby boomer. But the best design, the one that is timeless, is the one that reflects the good taste of the client. And if the client doesn’t have good taste, then there is always the interior designer. One comment we hear regularly is that our projects just don’t look like one another. We LIKE to hear that because it means we’ve been following the desires of the client and interpreting those desires into a well designed space.
3. The Three “E’s” Top It All : Expertise, Education and Experience
Effective design does not happen because someone has a good flair for placing pillows. Effective design happens because it is built on a certain expertise, ongoing education and years of experience. Those three “e’s” give the design professional the ability to handle difficult issues when if they arise or if something goes sideways. And difficulties do arise and things do go sideways.
But being engaged with the client and the project means handling the challenges quickly and finding solutions to those challenges. It is also important to know when just the right design is working and when to edit and delete. We see many interiors where the space is so busy, the eye doesn't have a chance at absorbing what the design statement is about. That takes skill and patience. (And by the way, we are quite adept in placing pillows with the appropriate karate chop in the middle. )
4. We Are Very Hands On And Some Times Our Hands Get Dirty.
We know some designers who infrequently get out of their office and inspect their job sites. You can’t be a designer by sitting in front of a computer and drawing cabinets and creating specifications. We believe that the designer needs to be checking out the progress of the work from time to time and in nearly all cases, is on the job site during deliveries and installations. After all, you can’t write a specification on how to toss a pillow so it lands just perfect in the corner of that tuxedo sofa sectional. You have to be there to toss the pillow, check the wall paint color, help with the delivery of the kitchen cabinets, place the rug on the floor just right, install the light bulbs in the lamps and hang the art. And that’s why sometimes our hands get dirty.
5. We Build Relationships That Endure With Clients and Colleagues.
Finally, we have clients that we have done and continue to do business with for nearly thirty years. And we have accounts with our vendors such as Palecek Furniture that go back an equal amount of time. It is about building relationships that become meaningful assets in the long term.
And just like the New Jersey client that is having us back this summer, we are comfortable with one another and our expectations are high. That comes from not just doing the job right but being right with the client.
Interior design is about creating spaces that impact the human experience. And great design when created with care and experience creates an opportunity for the client to enjoy their life with family and friends over time.
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.