Ignorance is the Enemy of Good Design
Rant ahead…let’s cut the crap, ok?
I mean it.
I’m tired of people thinking they can do it themselves.
You go ahead and design your kitchen. You have no experience, no knowledge of kitchen design and have no idea of the nuances of what goes into it.
But go head. Do it. Or better yet, let your contractor or cabinet maker design it for you on a piece of graph paper.
Now that is something that always amazes me. I had an acquaintance show me a design her contractor did on graph paper. I could take one look and see that it was a crappy design. But she thought it was ok. She didn’t know any better, and unfortunately neither did her contractor. I hope she enjoys her expensive crappy kitchen.
Harsh? Yep. But hey, I’m ranting right?
Which reminds me…the “designer contractor”. Oh boy! Here we go!
I’m tired of contractors who ‘think’ they are designers and give my clients design advice.
Hey, I don’t think I am a contractor. I don’t show up on site with my hammer and start working with your crew. I have no idea how you do what you do. So I don’t pretend I do, nor do I presume I do. I don’t give clients construction advice and change what you are doing.
So stop thinking you have the experience and knowledge of design. Stop changing the design plans based on “what you did for one of your clients”.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
One of my clients told me their contractor suggested they put bead board on the ceiling, instead of regular wall board. I said nope….it won’t go with the design. But he thought that because it was a cottage, it would. Well, he went ahead after talking the clients into it.
I walked in one day, looked up, and saw a honey-coloured bead board on the ceiling. It was awful. It did not go with the colour palette the client had chosen. Guys, I’m telling you, it was really bad.
And now the husband and wife were fighting because they actually thought the bead board would be white and they were now trying to figure out how to deal with it.
Ahem, a designer would have specified the colour. Just sayin’.
The wife wanted to paint it white (which would require sanding it because it had a varnish on it. Hellooooo labour costs!), the other wanted to keep it the way it was (dear lord, kill me now).
They asked me what I would do, and I couldn’t help myself because I was kinda peeved. I said “You guys have to deal with this on your own since you took this design advice from a contractor.” It was probably mean to say that, but I really didn’t want to figure out the best to deal with this design snaffu.
And besides, I told them not to do it. And yah, they regretted it.
Another contractor advised my clients not to get the “magic corner” (this is a cabinet accessory that allows you to use the space in that hard-to-reach corner cabinet). I didn’t even bother asking why he advised against it, but they didn’t get it.
And it only took one time, diving deep into the cabinet (on hands and knees) to get a pot, that the regret emerged.
And Then There Is This
Yep, the rant continues…I’m tired of people who think what I do is frivolous. It’s not.
A well-designed space – whether it is a kitchen, living room or an entire new floor plan – takes knowledge and experience. It is not something the general lay person can do themselves.
And I’m not talking about decorating your home.
I’m talking about functional layouts and design plans. In design, nothing is done at random; there is always a reason for every single itty bitty design detail.
When you design without knowledge and experience, this is where ignorance rears its’ ugly head.
Things don’t work out the way you thought they would because you just didn’t know any different. It ends up being a really bad design or it costs you an arm and a leg to fix the design mistake. It usually then that people think “we should have hired someone to help us with this.”
I See You!
Learning to design is learning to ‘see’. And I’m not just talking about “an eye for detail” or “an eye for design”. I’m referring to something much deeper.
Being able to see my clients, knowing when I have enough context to design, knowing when I need more information, knowing how to design to give them what they want and need.
And clients don’t always reveal things directly. A lot of what I gain from spending time with my clients is knowledge of who they are. With my experience, I can ‘see’ things that my clients don’t even know they revealed. And this information contributes to an awesome design.
Does your contractor spend the time with you so he/she sees you, knows who you are, picks up on nuances in what you say? Probably not. They make their money on the labour and the products they sell, not the design. Time is money for them. So why spend time with you, learning everything they can to give you the end result you desire? They just wanna get in, do the job and get out as quickly as possible.
For me, a happy client with a design that exceeded their wildest dreams is what matters to me. I want my clients to have a fabulous experience with me, enjoy the design process, and feel like they are part of it.
I’ve never had a client tell me that I got it all wrong. Never. Why? Because the design process I created goes well beyond what another designer does. It’s why I can create a functional plan that astounds my clients – The. Very. First. Time.
A Final Word
This blog may seem a wee harsh. But I hope it was enough to change your perspective on who you get design advice from and if they have your best interests at heart.
Because I can ensure you I do.