The Black & White Truth of Being a ‘Color Picker’
We were recently hired by a local commercial real estate firm to design its new corporate headquarters. I met the leadership group about a year ago over breakfast in Scottsdale and it took that long for the right project to reunite us.
Right away they informed me they had no experience working with an interior designer, but they were confident they needed us. They weren’t quite sure why, but the conversation continued. They expressed trepidation in making the finish selections as the main reason they believed they needed our services. Little did they know we create success on many levels for our clients.
Perhaps it’s the misconception of what designers do. You see, people think we just pick pretty colors. Quite the contrary. What we do is very technical and costs clients tons of money if not done correctly.
Many designers focus on the aesthetics. Now while we certainly care about that – if the aesthetics are not affordable or incur constant external costs – they translate into less than quality design. We are commercial designers. We specify products designed and engineered for use by the public.
I worked for a large commercial flooring contractor for about 10 years. As an account executive managing more than $4 million in sales, I worked with plenty of designers as part of my job. Being a designer myself, I am of course well acquainted with the challenges and responsibilities of a professional designer. However, some of the people with whom I worked would refer to designers as “color pickers.” They were not being rude. They were just uneducated about their client base.
Let me tell you what a seasoned interior designer brings to a project.
A project begins with the client, and determining its business needs. What is the function of the business? How much space are we talking? Is the client purchasing the property or leasing? Additional issues arise, such as budget, schedule, maintenance, traffic flow, and technology requirements.
An experienced firm will have technical working knowledge of product construction, fiber, and maintenance protocol for the products they recommend to provide successful specifications. Our job is to help the client save money by controlling external costs.
My background is interior subcontracting. Complementing that is the practical and technical knowledge of products, costs, installation methods, and planned maintenance. I strive to understand the business of our clients and to educate them.
We respect and honor that our clients are fulfilling their life's dream. We are hand holders. We are responsive. We are good partners.
What we’re not is just color pickers.