The Client - Designer Relationship - Part 01 The Client - Designer Relationship - Part 01

Excerpts from the Lesson "Client Designer Relationship" from the Sheffield School Complete Course in Interior Design.

We're going to examine another facet of the relationships between interior designers and decorators and the clients who ask us to help them make their homes and offices both functional and beautiful.

Happily, one of the joys of being an interior designer is having opportunities to meet interesting, successful people and becoming intimately involved in their lives.

Unfortunately, this is also one of the hazards of being an interior designer as well.

The Home as a Reflection of Its Occupant

Whether you will find interior designing to be a joy or a hazard depends upon how well prepared you are to handle your relationships with clients. That's what this series is about: How to successfully relate to clients.

The starting point is to recognize that the relationship between interior designer and client is a very human one. It is often intense and personal. This is especially true in residential work, where you are helping people express their most fervent dreams, hopes, and goals. Remember, your clients' home is more than their abode. It is an expression of the image they want to project to the world. It is their statement to their family, friends, and neighbors of who they are - or at least, who they think they are. It is an extension of their ego.

In other words, you may be involved at a very deep level in your clients' emotional lives, and you may become involved in private aspects of their interpersonal relationships.

Of course, to succeed in this field you are best off if you genuinely like people and enjoy sitting back while they regale you with tales of their conquests, hopes, fears, and desires. But, even if you lack such an innately sympathetic personality, you can succeed handsomely if you are prepared to handle the most common human situations that you will encounter.

One of the main goals of this series is to prepare you to handle those situations that are most common. If you are ready for the most common situations, you will be in for far fewer surprises along the way.

The Basics Facts of a Decorator's Life

At the beginning of every job, you will quickly discover three very basic facts of life:

  1. When you first discuss a design job with the clients, they rarely know what they want.
  2. If, in your initial meetings, they do tell you what they want, the chances are that you will end up - with their blessings - doing something completely different.
  3. Most clients will eventually spend more - sometimes, considerably more - than they initially state to be their absolute top budget.

Knowing these facts from the start, you are in a better position to handle the inevitable confusion and possible conflict that is present at the start of almost any client-designer relationship. Let's start by considering how you can help your clients clarify for themselves what they really want you to accomplish.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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