how i work: the design phase

This is a room in progress based on the board above.

Potential clients will sometimes ask if I will go shopping with them or how involved they will be in the design process.

I generally do not go shopping with clients or sort through tons of fabric swatches with them. I am happy to consider any furnishings or fabrics clients have found that they love, but I need to be able to evaluate everything independently to see if it really will create the overall feeling the client wants, and if it really is the best option from a space planning perspective.

I can only do this type of evaluation in the quiet of my studio, where I have the rooms on paper and all the other design elements thought out so that I can consider everything in relationship to one another.

There are several points in the design process where the work is collaborative. There is in the initial phase where the client tells us about their lifestyle and shares inspiration and ideas for the design. This is your opportunity to consider all the options and bring us absolutely every idea that strikes your fancy. This meeting sets the agenda for the entire project.

Then again in the revision phase the client points out any elements in the design that they do not absolutely love, and we work together to find replacements. At this point we can shop together for a few signature items or sort through things together to find replacements for anything that is not working.

I know it disappoints some people that I will not work hourly or shop with them, but this is really not the way most professional designers work. I think Million Dollar Decorators, which I wrote about in my last post, is a great depiction of how top designers create. They consult with the client but they do the work, the shopping, the editing, separately.

If you hire a designer it should be because you trust that this person can accomplish a result that you cannot get on your own. If this is true then, as a client, you have to communicate your point of view best you can and then let your designer do the design.

Many of my best clients have told me upfront that they want to be very involved, but when they see what we create for them they realize we have hit the nail on the head and that they do not really need to be there every step of the way to get the space of their dreams.

What do you think? Are you a designer? How do you prefer to work? Have any of you ever had a great experience with a designer who worked differently than this?

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