Motivational Monday: Getting Clients To Share…

Robert Sterns Quote

Whether you are an architect or a designer, I think the above quote speaks volumes to what I do….

I pitched a project to a client last week and got the feedback that the design “didn’t quite feel like him,’ which didn’t strike me as shocking.  The pitch was based on what I thought was the ideal design for the space, but it was missing something critical; his input.  Schedules barred the client and I from having the critical “Come To Jesus” design conversation I tend to have for all my projects.  It is during this conversation that I take the initial talk we had about likes/dislikes couple it with a bit of psychographic data (I was a sociology major) and then assess how the client wants to really live in their space.

The issue is that often during the initial introductory conversation, clients have a tendency to tell me about their “fantasy spaces” — children with sticky fingers don’t exist,  pets don’t claw furniture and the daily chaos of life is kept at bay.  They exaggerate their budgets and under-estimate the time it takes to complete.  This conversation gives me a peek into how a client wants to live, not how they need to live.  It’s that second conversation where I really get the facts and come to understand their needs, their wants and eventually their dreams for their home.  This second conversation can be awkward, uncomfortable but more times than not reveals the truth on how I need to design their space to merge beauty with function with reality.

But to have the best design possible, clients have to (1) make the time to be present for this journey and (2) be open to this process because as I said, it can and often does reveal things clients don’t realize or want to admit.  As I said we didn’t have “the conversation” and the client  instantly picked up that he didn’t see those personalized  elements that spoke to him and how he wants to live in the space.  When he realized that he didn’t give me the opportunity to really dive deep with him, he instantly understood that what was lacking was ….well him.  We talked for an hour and I think we are back on track to getting him the space he wants and deserves.  At the end of our talk, the client said “I didn’t realize how much I wanted out of my space and how much I was taking it for granted that you would figure it out…”

And that is just it folks, I can figure it out with the right input.  As the quote states, design is an intimate process.  Think about it — when else do you allow a stranger into your home for weeks, months or even years at a time to essentially help you orchestrate how you will live?  I get up in your business.  I get to know dirty secrets.  I explore all the shades of what it means to be you in your most comfortable and exposed.  It’s an honor.  It’s a challenge.  It’s what I do for a living.

I don’t create fantasies.  But I do make dreams come true.

[photo credit:  courtney lake]

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