I was asked recently to write an article for a luxury consumer magazine intended to inspire their affluent readers to fulfill the promise of interior design and remove some of the mystery. Here's an excerpt. Let me know if you have any other suggestions for clients to be ....
Finding the right designer begins with a client’s willingness to be found. Designers are almost always looking for good clients, so being found is just as important as finding. Widen your circles of friends and family to let other trusted professionals or style-mavens know that you are looking for interior design services. Referrals are often shared among realtors, architects and even editors of local home or style magazines. Someone you know is in the know.
If you have a vision for how you want to live, it’s time for show and tell. Keep a scrapbook, rip pages from magazines, go to show houses and go beyond good looks to imagine how your interiors need to function and feel. But don’t be overwhelmed with all the options. Designers are skilled at refining the choices, and can help avoid costly mistakes.
Expect your designer to ask good questions. Experience demonstrates that the better the questions, the wiser the designer is. So speak up, allow your inner-self to be heard and understood. But be congruent, if you and a spouse or similar person of influence make choices together, be sure they are the same choices. The result will be more intimate, more exclusive and a better experience for client and designer. Because designers are like consultants - they listen really well and then inspire their clients with imaginative solutions that are customized just for them.
Interior Design is like any other professional service business involving practical and technical considerations, as well as style and imagination. So look for business credentials, even licensing in some states or professional affiliations like American Society of Interior Design (ASID). The design process can involve many phases, so expect a thorough description of what’s to be done, when and by whom, and a reasonable estimate of the time and cost to complete the project. Design fees are becoming standard means of compensation for the true value of design. And remember time is money and the value of the designers time is just as worthwhile as the client’s. Therefore, be clear and minimize making changes.
The key to interior design is good communication, especially between designer and client. And with all of the communication technology available, it should be easy. Mobile phones, PDA, laptop computers, weblogs, PDF files, CAD drawings and probably several other types enable designers and clients to be in touch when and how they prefer. And it need not be 24/7, just clear, accurate and timely. Hey, we all have lives.
Golden Rules apply here. Throughout the design experience, you can be confident that if you are a good client, your designer will more than surprise and delight you. The best clients respect their designer’s judgment when it comes to well-edited choices. And the best designers are always respectful of a client’s time and money. So when that initial vision is realized, you will simply love to come home.
If you have any suggestions for earning the true luxury of working with a designer, comment below. This is the right place to do so. INSPIRED.talk is our place to carry on the conversation about the extraordinary value of design.