It always amazes me when I hear comments like “you don’t need a designer, just google it”. Or how about “I’m just as good as a designer”. Or one of my favorites “oh it won’t take you long, like what 10 minutes to just draw it out”. When I hear these kinds of comments I always think what other profession would you say those kinds of things to? Do people not realize that we go to school for between 4 – 6 years to be able to do what we do? Do they not realize that I can’t just scratch out a drawing because I do have a degree and I need the drawing that I do to be correct in all ways. The drawing that I do needs to be able to be given to a contractor or installer or workroom and made into what I have drawn. Designing isn’t just throwing pretty things together. Designing is creating a functioning work of art. It is creating a living space that people will live in, work in, raise children in, get married in, create a living in. And you want me to just throw it together? Do you ask your Doctor to just give you their best guess without running lab tests? Do you ask your CPA to just fudge the numbers to look good? No, you would never. So here is a look into what we as designers actually do all day.
We meet with reps to learn about the newest products available. These will be products from fabrics, to furniture, to tile, to flooring, to wall treatments, to window coverings, to cabinetry, plumbing fixtures and lighting. We have to know all the latest designs trends, the latest changes to each of these many industries, and we have to know what issues each of these industries are facing at any given time. This could mean an issue with fabrics mills, to shipping disruptions to changes to construction and new laws about components. This alone is a full time job and yet we can allot maybe two hours a week to this section of our jobs.
We meet with clients. We learn their loves and hates, their fears, their needs, their wants and their obsessions. We learn everything we can about that client so that we can make decisions for them when there is a need for a quick decision. We learn their budgets. We learn what is important to them and what isn’t. And most of all we learn how to work in that clients style.
We meet with contractions, architects, electricians, cabinet makers, tilers, floorers, workrooms, HVAC specialists, and plumbers. And at each new meeting we have to go to we jump through hoops to prove to everyone we really do know what we are talking about. Ok, that may be a little harsh, but the reality is that many in these positions still don’t want to believe that we are a valuable part of the process. So when we get a contractor, architect, electrician, installer and such that is happy to be working with a designer, we don’t let that person go. Because it is so much easier to work with those that value what we do and understand that we make their jobs easier.
We design and then redesign. I would love to say that with each project the design just flows and everything we suggest is accepted and created. But that is not reality. First, we probably design a specific space two to three times before we present the best option to the client. We spend hours drawing and redrawing. It doesn’t matter if we do it by hand or on the computer it doesn’t just magically appear on a piece of paper. And even the fastest designer still takes double the time that people think it takes to get it right. We spend hours looking through fabrics, wallpapers, lighting, furniture and flooring. We create multiple options in case one of the suggestions is not what the client loves and we need a back up. We price, reprice and negotiate to get our clients the best price. And then when it is all put together we present the vision to the client.
At the end of the day we have created a piece of art. We created a space where anything can happen. We created the home that will raise children, or fur babies, or dreams. We created the working environment that will make greatness possible, that will welcome clients, or patients, or customers. We created the environment that will entice people to try that new food, or that outfit. We created the space that will inspire people to dream. So when you ask “what does a designer actually do” I have the answer. We create the space where dreams are possible!
Very well written. I hope this helps people put your job and passion in perspective. You do such great pieces of art.