As a residential designer I am concerned with design. Most clients are concerned with décor.
As a designer I am concerned with continuity. The client is concerned with preserving the identity of those who will live or work there.
As a designer I want design to be the top priority. The client wants to be the top priority.
As a business man, if my business is to be a success, it must have clients. Those clients’ needs must be met. To meet the clients’ needs I must know a lot about the people or the business whose needs must be met.
In the home I need to know how they live, what their hobbies are, their professions, their families, their pets, their possessions. I need to know how they view their possessions. Some people are all about nostalgia; others see possessions as an inventory of replaceable stuff. This is the most difficult part of cave design.
In designing work places I need to know about how and where certain activities take place, decoration biases of key decision-makers is often important, occasionally involving the spouses thereof. But always the biases must bow to function, keeping in mind that the appearance of the work environment may very well represent a major function in and of itself. I read an article recently by a well-educated designer whose credentials would have made an interesting and rather lengthy post. Her topic was entitled “The difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator”. The article was brief, the photography abundant and more telling than she. The only difference that she seemed able to identify was that the Designer must have credentials. The Decorator need not be so endowed. And then I looked at the photography.
The lack of continuity was obvious.
Now there are some very famous and highly qualified designers whose knowledge of Stuff is impeccable and vast. I know one fellow for example who spends much more time traveling, buying and shipping back container-loads of stuff than he does designing the multi-million dollar abodes that attend to the needs of his clientele. He can be in and out of a twelve thousand foot home in three weeks. Two weeks for the walls and floors, one week to point and say “Put it there.” Even the drawings and elevations are done by subordinates.
My point is that the difference between only decorating and being a Designer is defined not by credentials but by knowledge. Talent helps but knowledge draws clients and those clients yet more clients. Yes, the most essential part of design is continuity but the first priority of business is customers.