The Interior Design Skill Not Taught In Design School

Color Manipulation? Spatial Planning. Lighting. Fabric coordination? What is the #1 Skill – that if used properly and profoundly – will yield perfect results evey time? Wrong on all guesses. The answer is:

Listening deeply. Hearing profoundly.

These are items found on my website under the “Who We Are” page. I assure you it is not marketing jargon. (though…not bad as jargon goes!) It’s what I do because I feel I must. Listen deeply, hear profoundly is not only my creed, but it is the only logical way to approach wise and excellent design – and to assure correct and ideal results.

Listening Deeply, Hearing Profoundly…should be the obligation of any good, ethical and gifted person in my field. It is also regrettably the untaught art – either discounted or simply misunderstood – by many teachers in interior design. Listen Deeply….in order to Hear Profoundly…this is the obligation of any designer ‘worth her fabric.’

Listen deeply, hear profoundly is what allows me to translate into design lingo a beautiful use, re purpose or ‘re framing’ of the disparate and unmatched elements in a home accumulated during the marvelous, different and important phases of a Life.

Unlike the advise given to one of my client once by an Ethan Allen salesperson that she should ‘get rid of it all and start her living room from scratch.” This, said to to my wonderful client who freely shared in our 1st interview that she was fresh out of a painful divorce and now living in a new unfamiliar city in a new much smaller residence that felt like anything but home. This, said to this lovely client who showed me a most eclectic craving in her interiors, a love of things aged and imperfect and combined in unexpected ways. This, ‘expert’ advice, offered to a woman who clearly craved not only beauty and visual calm in her surroundings, but also the comfort of things familiar as she was thrust into her new home and life.

From my perspective – all my client needed for the new living room she craved was to add to her existing furnishings by adding only a new sofa (she didn’t own one), a coffee table or over sized ottoman to use as such, 1 additional end table, and various accessories/lamps to round it all out – warm it all up. These few items were all that was needed to pull it together warmly and beautifully and to the feeling/look she craved – until she was done in this rental phase and ready to set down roots. This was all she needed, rather than the long laundry list of furniture dictated by a furniture salesperson.

Listen deeply, and hear profoundly. This is the skill allows me to translate into design the wishes and dreams and conflicting opinions a couple has about ‘what they want for their conservatory.’ She wants something mid century modern by all counts (not that she used this language with me, but it was quite clear in the photo images she shared) – and he wants something “French Provincial” so he said. But on paper, he really looked more like French Classicism…so…I’m going to try to take them to ‘Paris’ of a few time periods in order to marry both cravings of this terrific young married couple. But make no mistake. Their cravings go far beyond style. They each need pattern handled ia different way, same with color. But they are in alignment regarding texture and windows and which colors they are drawn to. (whew!) This is the information one must ‘listen for” too.

Listen deeply. Hear profoundly. It is an integral part of the ‘sacred’ to the work I do. It is central and it is non-negotiable. I used to cringe in design school every time a design teacher…and the head of the program too ….would sometimes insinuate that ‘designer knows best, client is a boob.’ Never said, but often implied by way of flippant remarks like. “Show them the French Blue and the Slate Blue – and then just take over, because clients don’t know what they want or what they’re doing.”

Listen deeply. Hear profoundly.

Listen to what? To whom? Why, to the inner stirrings of the person whose home one is being asked to design.

How do you listen? Wisely. Like a detective. With ears, eyes and intuition. I see clues and themes and guideposts amass like storm clouds in the wish photos clients show to me at the onset of project. I translate these wishes into design principal. The results are always magic.