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the dream design client

Posted in: blog on Sunday, April 15th, 2012

i have been very fortunate to have worked with great design clients in the course of my design career.  just prior to making a career change 20 years ago from design to the corporate world of italian tile, i had a client that was pure heaven to work with and i chalked it up to my lucky stars never expecting to have another like her.

fortunately in those 20 years i didn’t get too far from my love and passion since part of my job was working with some of the great designers, architects and developers across the united states.  after 20 years in the corporate world, i’m back doing design work.

working with people, helping to define their space – whether it’s their home or office – is really fun!  it also has it’s challenges, as you can well imagine.  when we opened modmood i was able to take a small space in the back of the store and surround myself with fabrics, tile, textile, rugs, wallcoverings, etc.  the hope was that i would be able to once again work with people in selecting products for their space.  fortunately this segment of our business has really grown.

i find myself with not only one but multiple dream clients.  what makes a dream client for me?

one who actually listens to you suggestions: deborah and rusty are perfect examples.  i went to their home for a consult and we walked through and around their house looking at the things they had done.  as i made suggestions here and there she made her notes.  about a week later we spoke and she said she was ready to move to the next level as she had done everything on the list…i about choked.  how many times do people ask your opinion and then actually follow your advice?  this was so refreshing!

another instance – a client and i were talking about doing some things a bit outside her comfort zone.  i was listening to her as she was explaining to me why she wasn’t comfortable doing something different.  she stopped, looked at me and said “let’s do it!  why would i hire you if i’m not going to make changes?”  to which i say…if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten!

one who doesn’t breath down your neck: i’m currently working on a very large project in boulder.  this woman is very high powered, owning her own business with about 10,000 employees.  she is a dream client because she let’s me do what i do…design and decorate.  in the beginning she was more hands on, but once she felt more confident that i understood her needs and i had her best interest at heart, all she needed was a clear understanding of the concept.  ”what is the design concept?  what are the fabrics and colors?  what is the estimated cost?” then she would leave me alone to work out the details trusting in my abilities and expertise.  does it matter if the bedspread drops 14″ or 15″?  to me, yes.  to her….?

you are trusted to make it right: as much as i hate to admit it, not all jobs go perfectly.  there may be upholstery, drapery, rug, or production issues. the perfect client doesn’t go crazy and make your life a living hell.  you are given time to make it right.  have you ever heard the term “snake bit”?  it’s used when a job just seems to be destined for trouble.  no matter what you do to make sure everything is done correctly,  it just doesn’t matter – the fabrics out of stock, the manufacturers customer service entered the order incorrectly, the heartland is flooded.  a dream client understands that no one wants the installation to go more smoothly than the designer.  believe it or not, we care MORE than you. our name and reputation are on the job, not to mention our desire to please!

these are just a few characteristics of the dream design client, but i think you get the gist of it.  are you really going to do anything suggested?  do you really want something different than what you have? can you trust someone who does this day in and day out to do their job? and can you give them space to make it right when and if something goes wrong?

of course it goes without saying that all designers and decorators are not created equal.  it’s important to do your due diligence and make sure you and the designer connect, that they do in fact have integrity, and really care about your project.  once this is established, if you can say yes to at least 3 of the above questions, you can be someones dream design client!