Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Pulp: Do clients really know what they want?

I would have to say No, I don't think they know what they want.  There are a few who really do know.  This subject came to light when I was watching my new favorite show on Bravo "Million Dollar Decorators".  http://www.bravotv.com/million-dollar-decorators?__source=ggl%7Cmillion+dollar+decorators+bravo%7CMillion+Dollar+Decorators%7CG_AlwaysOn&sky=ggl%7Cmillion+dollar+decorators+bravo%7CMillion+Dollar+Decorators%7CG_AlwaysOn&gclid=CP-0o7jl2akCFcnb4AodHAP9Yw

It is such a great show and even though they deal with the uber rich and famous, they still have the same problems I have - Clients who don't want to give up control.  That is really what it boils down to.  That clients want a great design but they can't give up control.  They can't seem to free themselves and let the possibilities in.  Of course, that doesn't mean they have to like it, but to allow the designer to show them what is possible is too much for some clients to accept.  The ironic part is they pay us for advice that they don't take.

Many times clients try to speak our designer lingo but often they are confused which leads us to misinterpret their desires.  For instance, I had a client who said he wanted a cool, Austin hip office.  I took that to mean something like this.....

Retro, cool, eclectic and being from Austin, I felt sure I was right.
But what he actually wanted was this.......

Traditional Law Office

Everyone's perceptions and understandings are different so showing the client some concept images can help make sure everyone is on the same page.  After I showed my client some cool Austin images, he decided he wasn't that cool.

It's our job to weed through the ideas and pictures and see the bigger picture, then go so far beyond that to give them a great design.  I love a client who has tons of pictures and has an idea of what they like.  Many times the pictures have a common theme that the client is unaware of.  I had a client, who in every picture they pulled had white walls and dark floors, though the pictures had a specific item the client liked, each picture had the same feel.  

My best advice for clients who hire Interior Designers is to trust them, allow the designers enough time and freedom for them to create a design for you.  Give them the tools they need; answer their questions, give them pictures, show them how you currently live and what your lifestyle is.  Try not to dictate specifics like a particular sofa or layout or whatever.  Those ideas and thoughts can come later after they show you the design.  You could be surprised at what you might like!  

A few quotes to make you think...

People think that design is styling. Design is not style. It’s not about giving shape to the shell and not giving a damn about the guts. Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.
— Paola Antonelli
The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end of the process to ‘tidy up’ the mess, as opposed to understanding it’s a ‘day one’ issue and part of everything.
— Tom Peters
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
— Steve Jobs


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