Im going to begin with the obvious here; Clients dont like to be told what to do.
I have had so many young Interior Designers working for me at San Diego Office Design over the years that begin their projects with a completely incorrect mindset. The newbie Designer assumes that since they are being asked for their professional assistance, the clients want them to clearly tell them what to do and how to do it.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Why? Well, in a nutshell, humans don’t like to be told what to do. Clients may want your input, suggestions and professional guidance, but they do not want to be given what may seem like an ultimatum.
It’s also uncomfortable to be given such black & white parameters for success. It’s far more comfortable to be shown what works and why one direction would be a better option to get the desired results instead of being told what to do.
And thus it begins…The Interior Designer becomes a professional design consultant that takes the time to educate, explain and discuss value-added features, return on investment opportunities, functionality of particular items and differences in quality that may not be apparent to the untrained DIY’er.
The seasoned Interior Designer becomes the clients constant advocate and educator. Some design clients prefer a lot of information and want to know all the facts before making a decision to move forward. Other clients have a more relaxed approach and are more comfortable with trusting the expertise of the Interior Designer that they are working with. The third (and most prolific group) of clients are those that learn to trust their Interior Designers professional advice over time. With demonstrated expertise and consistent professionalism, the Designer earns more and more trust, and more and more influence over the final product of their professional work.
Since we’ve learned that most clients fall into the third group of those that learn to trust in their professional Designer-Client relationship over time, my team always begins our design projects with showcasing two different options for our clients.
Interior Design options are curated selections that all work in coordination with one another. Each element has a specific part in the overall functionality, effect, balance, and interplay that makes it all work together.
Each option stands alone, is unique, and has been developed and curated for very specific reasons (usually to balance other elements within the space, to meet certain budgetary requests, or to offer specific warranty or usability needs.)
Then the dreaded happens.
The clients begins to Frankenstein option 1 with option 2.
In very rare cases, some of the elements selected for each option may be interchangeable. Your interior designer will be able to quickly tell you when that is the case.
For the most part each option was designed to be all-inclusive in its aesthetic balance, functionality and style. The last thing a client should start doing is pulling favorite features from one option into the other as if they are simply individual elements that do not affect one another.
There is a trickle down effect.
When you change one element of the design, it starts to affect the balance of each other thing, and the project can quickly move from well-designed, to a sh*t show of individual parts and pieces with no interplay, connection or cohesive story.
Here are the keys to success when working with you Interior Designer (or design team) that will ensure your project goes smoothly
- QUESTIONS ARE GREAT: Ask for clarification about products and selections. Designers want their clients to be fully informed and understand the value of the selections we’ve made for them.
- QUALITY & VALUE: Understand that much of what adds value is the unseen quality of the item selected. Two items may look very similar in style, but may be made from vastly different materials, or one may be from China while the other is made is the USA with superior materials and construction (an important feature from some of our clients)
- INCREASED LEAD TIMES: All items in the design option have manufacturers with their own delivery time-frames and lead times. Changing one element of your design may cause your project to go from a 1 month project to a 4 month project because of shipping time from Europe or custom manufacturing time.
- BALANCE AND CONTRAST: This is a more subtle feature that can really impact an overall space. If too many light or dark elements are combined the richness of the patina will be completely lost. often clients are seeing small samples of items that will be used in much larger quantity, which effects how the space will be experience by those in it.
- AESTHETIC STYLE: Often we propose very different aesthetic looks (contemporary vs traditional, or whimsical vs sophisticated) and each look is so unique that moving elements from one to another just wouldn’t work. It would leave people asking “hmmm, I dont get why the designer used that piece, it just doesn’t make sense”
My final tip for clients working with interior design options for their space is this; Remember why you hired your Interior Designer in the first place. Your professional designer has invested years of training and education into their degree, and possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise in their chosen field. Many designers like myself have decades of niche expertise in a specific field of Interior Design. We spend dedicated focused time on becoming a knowledge base for one specific market segment, and have a wealth know how and industry connection that make them an extremely valuable asset along the journey of designing your new space.
Tamara Romeo is the CEO and FOunder of San Diego Office Design, She has decades of experience in creating well-branded beautiful designs for her commercial interior design clients.