I have designed many spaces for my clients. Through the years, I have come to realize, over and over, that I must listen to my client’s desires. If the space is truly going to be an environment that supports and reflects them, listening is vital. Sounds simple, right? Sounds obvious. Yet it is not that easy, because designer and client are two fully formed people with all manner of ideas and tastes and beliefs and notions of what good design is. They come together, with the designer as the person with the knowledge and experience and who will work as the guide, and the client trusts the designer to help mold the space into something perfect.
I catch myself having immediate reactions at times to comments that clients make. I try to step back and analyze on the spot, my OWN reaction, in order to determine if there is something in my clients words that I can work with as a design principle for their project. This is where creativity can show up and where the unexpected can be revealed in a moment. I really want to dig deep and not only give my clients what they want, but also give them something that they would never have thought of before. These quick and immediate moments of analysis are where the germs of design break out from what I have done before to where my imagination can lead me. With every new project that I begin, I approach it with the possibility that I can reinvent the wheel in some way.
Recently, I had a client say something that turned my approach to her project around and I began to spin my mental plates for her with a new understanding of her wishes. She said, “I want everything to disappear.” Ahhhhh! At that moment, I understood her more completely and began to imagine how we could accomplish just that. What she wants is an environment that is soft and where nothing is in her face. She does not want a bold statement, but rather wants things to blend seamlessly. She does want subtly impactful moments here and there, but mostly she wants to enter the living room with a feeling that the eye could look forward without being stopped by some “statement.” It’s that forever feeling, where the eye can simply look into infinity. Now, these are my words, but they are helpful as I flesh out the word: disappear.
So how does one create a design concept of disappearing? First, we are breaking down the walls that enclose the kitchen to make an open plan of entrance area, living room, dining room and kitchen. Then, the colors I use will surely be in one range, as tone on tone. I will certainly bring textures of the fabrics into play. I will use lighting very carefully and help zone the space so that lighting will define the areas rather than color or shape. We will make a soffit at the large windows so that sheer blinds can be rolled up completely behind them in order to disappear. Glass with be used as well as light stone surfaces. When I do dip into slightly more saturated colors, they will be for the most part, used as a way to reinforce areas of the space.
One word can be the pivot point in design. Beyond that word is my vast trove of imagination and my mental associations that can evoke a deep well of images and memories that hopefully will resonate with my client. This becomes our new language that we can share and understand. Along with that is a welcomed continuing exploration of interpreting what that word means to my client. Of course things can’t really disappear! But I am sure that the reasons for that very word are the springboard for the leitmotif that will become the space. I am at the very beginning of my work for this client. I take a deep breath and embrace what I am sure will be an invigorating experience of communication and connection.