Not too long ago, architects and designers were revered for their knowledge of all facets of the design world. We could identify a work of Wright, the tulip design of Saarinen, or even quote the right recipe for that perfect plaster.
Many designers can still do these things, but so can our clients! We think we can thank the ever growing popularity of TV Home Shows for this…going all the way back to Trading Spaces of the early 2000’s. Suddenly home design was not quite so intimidating. As home owners soaked in the knowledge being broadcast into their living rooms, their confidence grew. They understood the ideas of proportion, scale, and texture. They knew what might be the right linen white to compliment that daisy yellow, and how celadon might be the perfect shade of green. Through home shows and the internet, our clients tapped into our coveted wealth of design knowledge. What was once was stored in Sweets Catalogs (how many remember those?) is now pulled up in seconds at the conference room table. Now every client is able to swipe away at their phone to show us that perfect kitchen exhaust hood or teak deck chair.
So what does this mean for us designers? We need to step up our game and be sure we remain as educated and informed as ever. But just as importantly, we must respect the fact that our clients have done their homework. It’s ok to learn from our clients, and we make it our goal to take away something new from every client relationship. It’s fine to learn about solar storage systems from our Tesla driving client. We find that once a client realizes that we take an interest in something they know about, they will listen to us in return.
We designers still have a few tricks up our sleeves, and it is still hard to beat years of practicing what we love. A well informed client is actually a good thing, and they can make the design process a little easier for both parties. So let the client shine once in a while and step aside from the lime light. The end result is often something pretty great.