As Cosmo Kramer (of Seinfeld fame) once said “don’t assume!”, good advice for life and for
design. A designer asked an associate to prepare materials for a presentation
with a client, “All beige, our client loves beige” only to hear the
client exclaim at the presentation; “Beige? I hate beige!!!”
Just because one thinks a design idea would be perfect for certain people, it might not. A
successful project hinges on incorporating good, functional designs into
people’s lives. Remember, they’re the ones using and living with your design.
For example, a client might say, “I’d like to have an open kitchen with a large island, lots
of counter tops, a 48” dual fuel range, double electric wall oven, two
large sinks, two dishwashers, and a large buffet table. And, oh, by the way, I
don’t cook” Yes, this person doesn’t cook but uses the kitchen as a catering area
for all the dinner parties he or she frequently hosts.
Whether as a consumer or the designer we can all be seduced by the bright shiny object or
the latest trend that may not match who we are or how we really live. Personally,
I love an open kitchen concept, a large island that friends could gather around
for drinks, sampling on delicious small bites, cheese and charcuterie while watching
me cooking, sounds like a lot of fun! But the truth is I love an open kitchen
concept in OTHER people’s homes but not in my home because it doesn’t fit my
cooking style. I like to entertain and mingle with my guests in my living room,
I carefully design my menu which some dishes that can be prepared ahead of time
and some at the last 10 minutes before dinner time when I excuse myself to the
kitchen to finish cooking. I like to do this part by myself, any conversation
with anyone can cause me to overcook my stir fry or the steaks to go from medium
rare to medium.
A large part of the design process is to understand the life style of your client, how they
relax, do they work at home, do they cook or order out, entertain a lot, etc.
For Lena and Michal,her partner, a couple of facts were; they’re musicians, there are
five different instruments between them (a violin, viola, keyboard, guitar and….
an oud!) all in a small New York City apartment!
There would be a lot of cooking, as students on a budget Lena and her partner do what they
can to stay on track, so they often cook a base dish to start the week and use
that in various combinations throughout. So, a decent sized kitchen,
refrigerator and dining area were a must. They also like to cook for friends
and entertain so room for six people around a table would be ideal.
As students, there would need to be a comfortable work area for study and as musicians, for practice. A great
internet connection was also a must (they are millennials after all) but they
also did not see the need for TV.
Storage is another very practical consideration, and a challenging one in what will likely
be a small space. From a design perspective, since my clients were just
starting out in life, they had yet to accumulate the tons of stuff that most of
us do in our life journey, except, that is, for books. Textbooks, musical
scores (some 11 ½” x 17”) and tons of reading material. It didn’t seem likely
they would be able cut back significantly in this department. Since neither
Of them are over the top collectors of fashion, I was hopeful that
at least this part of the puzzle would be solved a little more easily.
With the knowledge we have accumulated of our clients’ needs and our client having a
solid list of what they will need we are well prepared to begin the apartment
search. This information allows me to create a vision that I can project onto
the apartments we will view and the compromises we may have to make.