Monday, September 27, 2010

Should There Be Kindness In the World of Design?

Preston Bailey, a fabulous event planner/designer, (in my humble opinion), wrote this recent post on his blog:  “Common Mistakes – Being Too Concerned About What Others Think”  I love to read Preston’s posts as they are written with the wisdom of having many years of business experience, in a creative field, as well as I believe they truly come from the heart.  (He writes his own posts rather than assign them to someone else.)  Preston was spot on with his conclusions and if you are a professional in the field of interior design, or even a consumer looking to hire a designer, this is a great read.  It brings forth the question - “Should there be kindness in the world of design?”


(Here’s Preston creating one of his own blog posts.  I enjoy his combination of elegance and humility.  He honors his past, while looking towards the future.)

I appreciate constructive comments as they are good for dialogue and help non-designers understand more about the process and world of interior design.  I appreciate them when they come from a trusted peer or advisor.  (Those of whom I admire their degree of expertise and their integrity.  I know the comments will be honest but with good intention.)  I often ask those special people for their advice and objective opinions, even though I know the world of design and art can be very subjective.  Ultimately, my “design judge” will be the client or the potential clients who might be looking for my services.


(An interior designer’s portfolio.  It’s more than a stack of photos.  It’s our body of work and the heart and soul of our clients’ projects.)

If a third-party posts portfolio photos online, it should be done with respect and admiration for that designer’s work.   If an individual, be it the designer or the homeowner, is not made aware their work is being put out for public critique, (as being solicited on some social media sites), it opens up an opportunity for a misunderstanding as to the intent of the post, especially if placed in a position of which the topic regards ill humor or snarky comments.  In some cases, not only are comments being made about the designer's work, the poster may also be commenting on a design client’s personal residence.  Professionals should understand the concept of restraint and good taste in all areas of design, even with their words.  I think most consumers would choose talent, professionalism, class, and kindness.  (At least, that's the kind of client with whom I enjoy working the most.)


(Thank goodness for diversity!  Otherwise snowflakes could be awfully boring.)

We have to remember that opinions are just what they are.  The intention is what sets them apart.  What is the gain for the other party?  Does it build them up or support them?  If not, I remember what my southern mother has always shared with me - "When in doubt, don't do it" and the old adage about, "If you don't have anything kind to say . . . ."  Finally, the Golden Rule works very well, too.  I often wonder, given the face-to-face opportunity with the interior designer and their clients, if some of the comments I've seen made on those media outlets would be openly shared? 

I think the beauty of interior design is not only in applying its functional aspect; it’s the personal expression for the client.  We, the designers, offer our professional guidance.  The final signature of approval comes from the client. 

Thanks for letting me share my musings, today.  I appreciate your time!

With kindest regards,


10 comments: said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also enjoyed reading Preston's post and love his over the top work. Appreciate your reminding about the old adage that we should continue to live by. Whether it is personal or professional, always best to to be kind in thought, word, and deed.

Norbridge Antiques said...

Wanda, This is a thoughtful summary showing as always your kindness and professional approach.

Nick @ Cupboards said...

Interesting post, Wanda- I think that you're spot on with citing Preston's post(I agree with him 100%). So many designers are so concerned with what others think that they end up moving away from what may have made them a good designer in the first place.

As far as restraint, I think that many of my customers have chosen to work with us because I am a very straight shooter, even when it's harsh. Does it turn some people off? Probably, but that's the business and brand I've developed and my customers appreciate that part of my personality.

I know up front, like Preston, that not everyone would do things the way I would in a design and some might think it silly or otherwise. I suppose my attitude toward a snarky comment is that I got the job and they didn't. No worries for me. It is good to at least hear the negative though- sometimes it's good advice.

Designer friends of mine that tend to be sensitive to criticism usually keep their portfolios "offline" or at least private except to serious potential clients and I encourage that. Those with tough skin get to brave the real world and put it out there. Ultimately, I like to leave it up to my customers. When they cut the check for their design, it belongs to them and we let them decide if they are okay with us using it in the future.

Great thought provoking post- Enjoyed it!

Norbridge Antiques said...

Wanda, Your summary shows your kindness and consistent professionalism. Thank you for this post.

pillowthrowdecor said...

What a thoughtful and timely message Wanda. Bad design creates a lot of conversational fodder but who is to decide what is good or bad?.. ultimately the client. You've done well to remind us all of the Golden Rule. Thanks so much!

Wanda S. Horton - Interior Designer said...

Thank you, everyone, for taking your valued time to share comments. I guess I still have a little Mary Poppins in me in still believing. . . "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down". And lest anyone think my halo never gets tarnished, it's a struggle to hold one's tongue, at times, but it's an exercise I'm learning to practice more, after knowing more of the facts.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Hi Wanda! Hope you are well! I find this a very interesting topic not only from comments made on blogs and pictures posted {I know that there was someone who would take someone else's blog posts, post them on their blog and make fun of those posts and the blogger. That was the extent of their blog}.

I am currently working with a client who was devastated by a well-known interior designer here on Long Island and the horrible comments she made about this woman's house and some of the things she had just purchased. Our whole initial consultation this woman was referred to and I finally said to the client, "That designer is not here right now. Let's forget all about her. We are starting fresh. We are going to make your house the place you want it to be." I was actually surprised she even reached out to someone else for help after that experience. She wouldn't tell me the designer's name and I didn't ask, but I know exactly who it is and no one, absolutely no one, has the right to make you feel so horrible in your own home, that you cry when they leave.

Storibook Designs said...

There should always be kindness and respect. There is constructive critique, of which any professional should offer, and then there is criticism for criticism, which has no benefit to anyone. I object to a page on Facebook for this reason, its purpose is to tear apart and I always wonder, "who does that home belong to" and feel terrible thinking how hurt they would be if they saw some of the comments.

Kindness & respect matter.

Cynthia @ said...

Wanda - thoughtful post. I'm sure there are plenty of people who tear down others simply to make themselves feel somehow better. Whether they do this online or in person, I am hopeful that prospective clients recognize that respect is what matters most, and choose with whom to do business accordingly.

Anne Lubner Designs said...

I know the Facebook page you're referring to, and while I enjoy the opportunity to flex my design muscles and comment (constructively), your post has given me pause. Some of the comments are indeed snarky and if applied to my home or my designs, I don't think my skin would be tough enough to ward them off. In the chance that my participation, even though made constructively, could be construed as support for the harsh comments made, my participation will now cease. Thank you Wanda for being like a good mother and reminding us all that kindness always trumps humor at the expense of others.