DSA Newsletter - July 2009

Notes from Natasha

On Professional Ethics

While we have all heard these things in the past, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of a busy design business and forget some of the basics, such as professional ethics and standards. As practicing designers, we should always behave in a way that is ethical and professional.

That being said, you will not please everyone all the time. Even adhering to the most stringent guidelines, you will likely experience conflict and frustration as well as satisfaction and exhilaration. So be aware of the major areas of professional ethical concerns that could impact your relationships with clients, suppliers and other professionals. A reputation is hard to build and easy to lose so always keep the following in mind:

  • Make full disclosure to your clients, clarifying the scope and cost of the job. For example, do not tell a client that you will only charge a small fee, when you intend to sell furniture retail to a client and make a 50 percent profit.
  • Keep the best interests of your clients in mind at all times, protecting their safety and choosing healthy, earth-friendly solutions when possible. Comply with all laws, codes and regulations.
  • Do not make changes in quality, quantity or materials to increase your fee. This temptation is greatest when a project is over budget. Changing the quality of materials in quoted proposals or specifying excessively expensive items merely to increase one's total commission is not good practice.
  • Always respect the confidentiality and privacy of your clients. Do not discuss the budget of your client with suppliers and contracted third parties.
  • Treat your suppliers and other professionals with honesty and integrity. Never pass the blame on to someone else if delays or problems are the result of your own errors or lack of timeliness.
  • Always meet your financial obligations. Keep records of all financial dealings.
  • Be honest.

Following these guidelines will not only keep your conscious clear, enabling you to focus on quality design work, but also earn you many referrals from satisfied clients.

Designer Profile - Brian Watford/Brian Watford Interiors, Atlanta Georgia

In 2006, with a degree in Interior Design from the Art Institute of Atlanta and over nine years experience as senior designer for Suzanne Kasler Interiors, Brian Watford established his Atlanta-based design firm, Brian Watford Interiors. It was during his time as senior designer for SKI that he cultivated his thorough knowledge of design, ultimately developing a style and approach to interiors that is his own...fusing classic, understated, relaxed sophistication with modern sensibility and quality vintage pieces. With extensive experience in luxurious residential interiors, Brian is committed to providing impeccable service and approaching each project as an opportunity to create something unique.

Brian believes creating luxurious living environments is achieved through a keen understanding of each client and maintaining the highest standards of collaboration between all members of the project design team. The core of Brian Watford Interiors' philosophy is to create an atmosphere that is appropriate for its architectural surroundings and encapsulates the client's lifestyle through a process of exposure, knowledge and creativity. Design intoned to the subtle and the striking.

In October 2005, House Beautiful, named Brian as one of the Top 25 "Next Wave" of Designers (under 40) in America. He also earned much professional success in his association with Suzanne Kasler Interiors (with work featured in Southern Accents, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Atlanta Magazine Home, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution). Brian has received three ASID Georgia Chapter Design Excellence Gold Awards, including one in 2008 for a residence under 3500 sq. ft. and another in 2009 for a singular space and residence over 3500 sq. ft.

Easy to be Green - Recycling Carpet

Many of us think of recycling when we think about being green. Recycling is one good thing we can do to help reduce waste and encourage the reuse of materials which in turn minimizes energy use and slows the depletion of natural raw materials.

As interior designers, carpet is one of the most important products we can recycle. Did you know that in the United States alone about five billion pounds of carpet go into landfills each year?

Fortunately, carpet manufacturers have been busy greening their processes and their products. Many companies have some form of carpet "take back" program. And the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is working hard to make carpet recycling easy and common. Visit www.carpetrecovery.org for more information.

When selecting carpet for a project, watch for a take back program that will take back all the carpet you are removing from a renovation, as well as being committed to taking back the newly installed carpet at the end of its useful life. That's relatively easy when specifying commercial carpet. The challenge is finding recycling for residential carpet, small quantities of carpet or when you're just removing carpet but not installing new carpet.

This gap in recycling options is an opportunity for activism. As designers, we can pressure manufacturers to do more in terms of recycling services. We can organize community groups or our industry organizations could sponsor a carpet recycling container for everyone's use. We can also encourage and lead efforts in our municipalities to include a carpet container at existing recycling centers. Pooling our carpet waste would quickly generate truckload after truckload and significantly reduce that five billion pound figure.

Being a responsible designer is one part of being a responsible citizen. I just listened to President Barack Obama talk this morning about the United We Serve initiative. Taking the lead on helping boost the infrastructure for carpet recycling is one way to serve our planet.

We should all be selecting recyclable carpet and making sure the carpet we discard is recycled. It's our professional responsibility.

Sue Norman
Managing Editor

Focus on Ceilings

One of the first objects that your mind focuses on as you open your eyes from a deep sleep every morning is the ceiling. We probably don't give it any importance nor do our minds even register the vision because it is usually a boring shade of off white, maybe even a little cracked and probably very uninteresting . What if our ceilings were a splendid feast for the eyes, creating our first thoughts of the day as peaceful ones or maybe gave us some inspiration to climb out of bed most mornings? In the past century, for the most part, our architects and home designers have neglected what some have named the "fifth wall" of the room.

Since we have swung for the past few years into a more minimalistic phase in design with a huge focus on sustainability, this is a perfect time to add some interest to the structure and the details of the ceiling. By looking back at the classic elegance of Florida architect Addison Mizner's structures and those of the infamous Frank Lloyd Wright, which were for the most part built during tough economic times, they never lacked architectural details nor elegance........plus they had interesting ceilings! With their unique Spanish style, Mizner homes became the style of Palm Beach society back in the late 1920's.

Adorned with barrel tile roofs and roughly textured stucco walls, his style was labeled as "Mediterranean revival." Mizner played with Florida beach and surf to design his structures. He took into account which rooms would need to be strategically placed to enjoy the view of the ocean and enjoy sunsets. We have assimilated a lot of Mizner designs this past decade by utilizing ornamental ironwork and cast stone architectural elements such as window frames, doorways, arches and columns. Unfortunately, we have not followed through with the interest in the ceilings. Mizner created interest in all of the ceilings while designing. He constructed archways with trusses around the exterior of a structure, following through to unique groin ceiling vaults at the entrance of the home.

Mizner strived to present a variety of architectural elements in his mansions by means of exotic wood beams and trusses, Juliet balconies, grand doorways and cathedral type ceilings. While Mizner was "wowing" West Palm and Boca Raton in the 1920's with fabulous estates, Frank Lloyd Wright was launching a new concept of building poured concrete textile block homes in California, Arizona and New York. Wright's love for organic design made him one of the most creative people of our century. Wright, like Mizner, used the nature of the building site, the client and the climate to create his structural philosophy.

While constructing homes of every geometrical shape, Wright was able to create a variety of imaginative ceilings along the way. In his phase of concrete block homes, which had a sort of "Lego" appeal, he designed perfect rows of coffered ceiling panels, while giving the home dimension and balance. Wright also had a gift for finding unique ways to get natural light to enter the ceilings using two level trays with tiny rooftop windows, skylights in many sizes and playing with concrete shapes from the exterior to allow small beams of light to enter. In the 1930's Wright moved on to exquisite but simple natural stone and wood construction with sloping ceilings, oblong doorways and multi-paneled windows. His creativity was endless. Both Mizner and Wright were masters of architecture and design and refresh our thoughts of the endless elements that can be used to create a room while not leaving out that fifth wall - the ceiling. Designers, builders, architects and home owners should start noticing the ceilings that surround their space and imagine what Mizner or Wright could have come up with that would enhance the area without squashing the budget.

Source: ezinearticles.com/?expert+Corinne_Bello

Be a Proactive Designer

There are so many ways to "toot your own horn." Why is it that designers wait for business to find them? It is true that interior design is largely based on referrals, but it does not mean that this should be the sole source of new business. How much more business can your firm get by being pro-active rather than passive in marketing?

Most people are familiar with the standard methods of submitting photos and hoping for publication, show houses and advertising/advertorials. Although these methods work with varying degrees of results, there are other ways to promote business that are less tried and just as true. For instance, sponsoring/hosting an educational event about something related to the industry that informs consumers is one idea (Feng Shui, how to work with a designer, etc.). You represent yourself as a practitioner and do the speaking or bring in other speakers, thus providing a forum to inform and introduce yourself.

Another group approach is to work with real estate agents. Host a luncheon for the top brokers in your area and offer them a value add such as simple design solutions to increase the salability of a property or an inexpensive "staging" package for homes on the market. Your goals should be:

  1. Get yourself in the public eye - let people become familiar with your name
  2. Speak to value add propositions - working with you will keep design costs down and increase the value of a home/sale.

Remember, they are not hiring you because of pretty design or because you are the best. You are being hired because there is something in it for the client. Speak to that point and you will get the job!

Lloyd Princeton
Design Management Company
(212) 777-5718

Let's Go To Market!

The High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina provides access to more home furnishing products than anywhere else in the world. Each spring and fall, it is attended by over 80,000 industry professionals from more than 110 foreign countries and all 50 US States. Future market dates are listed below:

Year Spring Fall 2009 October 17-22 2010 April 17-22 October 16-21 2011 April 2-7 October 22-27 2012 April 21-26 October 13-18 2013 April 20-25 October 19-24 2014 March 29-3 October 18-23 2015 April 18-23 October 17-22

For more information on this market, visit http://www.showplace-highpoint.com/market.

Future Las Vegas Market Dates

Fall 2009 Las Vegas Market
September 14 - 17, 2009

Winter 2010 Las Vegas Market
February 1 - 5, 2010

Fall 2010 Las Vegas Market
September 13 - 17, 2010

Winter 2011 Las Vegas Market
February 14 - 18, 2011

Fall 2011 Las Vegas Market
September 12 - 16, 2011

For more information on this market, visit them online at www.lasvegasmarket.com/wmc/market_information/future_dates.