The Client - Designer Relationship - Part 09 The Client - Designer Relationship - Part 09

In six prior installments, we've devoted considerable attention to the key aspects of your client interview. We're going to wrap up this study of the client interview in this installment. In the coming months, we'll look at other aspects of the client - designer relationship, including how to deal with couples that don't necessarily see eye to eye, and the all-important presentation of the budget.

We've covered all the general aspects of the client interview, but let us leave you with one final thought. Under no circumstances during this interview should you give your clients any suggestions concerning the specifics of your design ideas for their job. The function of this interview is for you to find out about the Redfords, not vice versa. They've already hired you. At this point, your objective is to learn about the Redfords and what makes them tick. Right now, you are discovering their likes and dislikes. You have not yet measured the room or drawn a rough sketch of it; perhaps, you haven't even seen the room yet. You should be absorbing information, not spouting ideas off the top of your head.

  • That's the purpose of asking a sequence of questions - it enables you to accumulate and absorb all the necessary information in a systematic, thorough, professional way. If the Redfords ask your ideas, be professional. Tell them that you don't want to jump to any conclusions until you've had ample time to absorb all the information they have given you and a chance to measure and sketch the room.

By following this simple rule, you avoid ever having to say at a later date: "I'm sorry, Mrs. Redford. The original ideas I suggested won't work."

Before you leave, make an appointment to come back to measure and sketch the room.

In case you have any concerns that you will appear "unprofessional" if you ask too many questions, let us leave you with the thoughts of the late Angelo Donghia, who was one of the world's most respected interior designers who worked with a host of celebrity clients. He said that he left nothing to chance:

"Notes? I make dozens and dozens of them before I begin an interior. I ask the clients for their daily routines, one by one, and in sequence, and create an ideal place for doing each one. It's amazing how many people don't know their routines, have never thought about them. My joy is in trying to get that disorder straightened out."

That then is the challenge for you with the Redfords: To create an ideal place for their activities - a place that will help bring order (and joy) to their daily lives.

Excerpted from the Lessons "Client Designer Relationship" and "Planning for People" from the Sheffield School Complete Course in Interior Design.
Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

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