It seems that being an interior designer in this time and age is getting more challenging...
While having lunch with some friends today, one of them popped me a question somewhat along the line of, “Tell me, how do you design your clients' home, given that you most probably only just got to know them when you take on a job? Isn't that very difficult?” What he really can't understand is how I can even start taking on a task as arduous as designing a dream home for somebody else, given that I have absolutely no prior knowledge about these individuals' lifestyle or habits. To be frank, that's not a tough question to answer at all, although I agree interior design is not an easy line to be in. I laughingly reminded him that there's a reason why interior designers exist till this day and that if everyone thinks like him, we'll soon be out of business! Ha!
Even as his viewpoint was, in my opinion, rather one-sided, I believe he has his reasons for saying that. Even Philipe Starck once said, “Never hire an interior designer. You must do this by yourself. When someone designs your home, you live in his mind.”
Coincidentally, earlier last week, I visited a prospective client who is considering a home rejuvenation. She lamented about the miscommunications between her previous interior designer and her. According to her, the works were not done to her satisfaction, and the design was so bad she had to engage another party to redo many parts soon after the works were 'completed'. As expected, she had some arguments with the designer over these issues and thought the house, as in her own words, “has got nothing to show for the money that I spent”. In fact, this is not a stand-alone story. Just visit local discussion forums like SingaporeBrides to confirm that there are more 'unfortunate' tales like that around.
So, does that mean everybody should become a do-it-yourself interior designer? Indeed, who else understand your own preferences and likings better than you yourself? I think that to buy into that whole idea is to question the role of designers in our society at large. Sure, if you think you can do a good job designing your home yourself without engaging an interior designer, I say by all means go ahead. Bravo! But in all fariness, efficient interior designers bring to the table their wealth of expertise in space planning, project management and interior decoration - a layman either can't do these jobs as well or don't have the time to tend to the project himself or herself. And from what I've noticed so far, many homeowners often don't even know what they want for themselves (and their home). A fresh perspective from a third party - with a good sense of aesthetics at that – definitely helps in such cases. Isn't that true?
I suppose a happy client-designer relationship begins with a clear understanding of the dwellers' requirements and needs as early as possible in the design process. No two minds can be alike. So ask questions. Take notes. Convey your thoughts clearly. Finding out about someone's priorities, likes and dislikes for his or her house from the outfront is really really important. Listen more and talk less. It's not always an easy process, but we'll get there somehow - everytime.