We’ve all seen the low budget and last minute makeover programmes on television, haven’t we? The Interior Designer seems to be fully employed just plumping up cushions, sticking things on a wall with Blu-tack and trying to convince the young lad of the family how much he is going to love his Spiderman poster. Worst still, the project has supposedly taken just a day or two to complete, but it’s clear for viewers to see that in real production, enough time has elapsed for the boy’s interest to shift from the Marvel Superhero to his interest in Rihanna.
Why do they do this? Why do they produce programmes that make Interior Designers look lazy, conceited and incompetent? Whilst simultaneously trying to convince the public that most of a home can be transformed virtually overnight, on a tiny budget?
We could conclude that it must be just ratings driven; it’s what people want to see in a programme about design, it’s as simple as that, nothing more to discuss.
But, hold on, we think there is more to it than that.
Obviously there are some TV programmes, such as ‘Grand Designs’ that feature some beautiful and innovative work. That particular programme takes the subject of interiors very seriously but, unfortunately, does not actually feature too much on the day to day work of the professional Interior Designer. It usually focuses more on the home owner and often on the architect. Nevertheless, the last series pulled in an average of 3.1 million viewers* per programme, so obviously there is a UK appetite for well produced programming, dealing with interesting and well thought out architecture and design.
So what is the purpose of the production and proliferation of the widely popular ‘bottom end’ design shows, not just in the UK but also in the US?
Our theory is that they are there not to inform, not to assist the viewer with design ideas and not there to provide any insight into the real world of Interior Design, but existing as (what historically used to be termed) mere ‘light entertainment’. Rather in the same way that some newspapers carry many stories but not much news. As such, both the printed media and the programmers may very well attract decent reader and viewing numbers.
However, the way we see it is that the watching audience is almost certainly made up of at least two differing groups of people – those who would not consider the possibility of using an Interior Designer and those who might. So, this is where we have a problem:
Regular viewers of these programmes, who might have thought about employing a designer to help with their home, see one Interior Designer after another, merely doing ‘design’ things with interiors, that they could easily do themselves – so why on earth would they employ someone to do that?
So we think, in the absence of a television programme that provides a guide to what Interior Designers actually do for their clients (and we would happily make that programme if anyone out there would like to commission it), it is only fair we should redress the balance.
So here is a list of the very least you can expect to be made available to you, as a client, if you employ a professional to work with you on an Interior Design project:
- A free initial professional assessment of your requirements – most Designers will usually provide an initial free consultation to establish your needs, aims and aspirations – and an outline plan of action to achieve them.
- Money saving advice and discounts – an experienced Designer will prevent you from making any possibly expensive mistakes. Additionally, they will have established accounts enabling them to buy at trade prices, rather than retail. Depending on their fee pricing structure, you can reasonably expect some of those savings to be passed on to you.
- Help with a budget – sourcing products (see 4 below) and buying things for interiors is an integral part of an Interior Designer’s job. As is outsourcing work to contractors. They know what things cost and should be happy to work with you to establish a good guide to the overall cost of any agreed project.
- Access to product information and resources – a professional Interior Designer will have been through formal training that included extensive study into products and materials. They will have subsequently kept up to date with all new developments so that they know what is available for any interior situation. They will have built up their own extensive library of products/resources and should know what to recommend and where to acquire whatever is required. That includes all types of flooring, furniture, lighting, decoration, fabrics and window treatments. Also, the latest in kitchen and bathroom design, the best of today’s audio/visual equipment and home automation.
- Professional help with space planning – good design does not just rely on balance, harmony, proportion, texture, co-ordination, etc. You live in a space that you have purchased at great expense. If you employ a Designer to work with, what is probably, your greatest asset, they should help you make the most of it, not just aesthetically but also spatially. Experienced Interior Designers know how to plan space for optimum efficiency, comfort and lifestyle choices.
- Contacts and People – it may be that your project requires work to be carried out by various trades’ people. A good Designer should already know and have worked with competent and reliable contractors of all trades. They should therefore be able to recommend the right people to you for the required works.
- Control and Project Management – having recommended suitable contractors, any worthwhile Designer should then be able to offer you a complete ‘turnkey’ service, using their skills to bring in a finished project to the highest possible industry standards. That requires your Designer to provide precise specifications and competent supervision of all work carried out on your behalf.
- A reduction in your stress levels – if your design project is one that requires particularly intricate initial planning, a high level of trade craftsmanship and on-going management, you are probably going to get stressed if you go it alone, if out of your comfort zone. Letting the person you have employed take all the responsibility, makes complete sense – that is why you are paying them!
- Help and advice with period design and restoration projects – a professional designer will have studied the history of Architecture and Interior Design – from the classicism of Ancient Greece to the quirkiness of the Art Deco movement. So, if your property requires particular attention to period detail, all the help you need should be available.
- Imaginative, creative and practical ideas – an important part of a Designer’s job is to bring fresh, new ideas. To introduce clients to concepts with which they may not be familiar – far beyond the DIY level. They should create interiors for you that are beautiful, comfortable, functional and completely suited to your lifestyle.
- A pre-market service and property de-cluttering – Interior Designers know how to ‘stage’ a property. They know what is needed and what is not, to make your home most appealing to others. So, if you are thinking of putting your property up for sale (or you just feel the time is right for a good de-clutter), talk to a Designer – you should certainly cover their fees with the added property value achieved using their services.
- A firm and fair breakdown of all fees payable – before commencing any work on your behalf, an experienced professional should be able to tell you exactly what their fees will be – if they cannot, find somebody else!
So why on earth would you use an Interior Designer? For any combination of the twelve reasons above, we hope!
*Source: Fast Facts – Fremantle Media UK