I don't think I am wrong when I say that the perception among the general public is that interior designers only focus on the color of the walls, the style of window, wall and floor coverings, and a parade of pillows strategically placed on the sofas and chairs. And that maybe true,...that is certainly not all.
Many professionals in the practice of interior design look beyond those elements and include a much deeper and broad process and approach. Take for example a potential client that recently interviewed our firm and was looking to update the lobby of a local historic hotel. Initially the property manager was asking for ideas on new fabrics for the chairs, replacements for the tables that were unsteady, perhaps a rug that would baffle the sound in the two story space when people gathered for evening drinks.
But to the experienced eye, the design problems were more complex than that.
In the job site review done over a series of days and nights, interviews with guests and a meeting with the owners, it first became obvious there was a problem with traffic patterns. Guests just entering the lobby didn't have a clearly defined path to get to the registration desk and signage was nearly non-existent. The second was the lighting was abundant but they were not taking advantage of new technology that would provide a better output, lower maintenance costs but also be significantly more energy efficient. The hard surfaces of the lobby bounced around the sound and prevented anyone from having a decent conversation with colleagues. But it would take more than just a rug to solve that issue.
HOWEVER.... the real problem, at least as we saw it, was that the image - or brand - they were trying to project was inconsistent with the "public face" they had established in the design of their building, thru their hotel website and marketing materials. It was confusing to the guests from the moment they stepped thru the glass double doors that what they thought they knew, what their perception was of the property and what their first impression was was not well conceived nor connected. One main issue was actually the bigger of all the challenges: How to connect all the dots and ensure that first impressions were consistent with their brand message and what they stood for.
Our proposal and presentation to to the client focused very little on new fabrics and finishes, nor the new rug. It was looking well beyond the basic elements of furnishings and fixtures to ensure that the design really addressed the bigger pictures... like functionality, signage plus incorporating design as an element of one's brand.
So here is what you should know about interior design. Design is much more than picking the right colors. Its about a creating a process that ensures that appropriate objectives are determined at the beginning of any design conversation and that solutions are well defined as outcomes of a strategic process. Its connecting the pieces so that at the completion of the project, all issues have been addressed like traffic flow, lighting, safety, way-finding, sustainability, maintenance, branding.... oh and by the way... yes....that the right color of paint is ultimately picked to go with that parade of pillows.
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.