The founding principles behind Pia Design are a flexible approach and listening to my Clients. I feel that these two factors are absolutely paramount to any service industry profession - most of all to something as personal as interior design.
However, the common preconception still exists that the interior design industry is a 'luxury service', and that many designers are aloof, unapproachable or even snobby, and I've had clients comment when meeting me for the first time that they are 'surprised how down to earth I am'.
So, it's interesting to reflect on how much of what we do is about us as designers, and how much is actually about the client?
A designer has been hired as the for their style and professional expertise, but their role is more wide-ranging than people often realise - from architectural layout and electrical plans to technical joinery design and hard finishes specification, to the softer elements such as choosing curtain and upholstery fabrics, accessories and artwork. On top of that, there are the admin related tasks such as budget control and placing orders, and then the project coordination - liaising with builders and overseeing the implementation of the design.
A good designer also needs to have impeccable diplomacy skills - consolidating the often differing tastes of husband and wife (let alone when the kids want to have a say, too) is a task in itself - the refurbishment process can create disagreements and compromises need to be negotiated peacefully.
Of course, there's more to becoming a successful designer than being organised (although sometimes I swear that's about 90% of the job). Over the years, an established designer will have developed their own design style and a good reputation, which attracts clients to work with them - often clients will happily sign up to a waiting list to work with a specific designer, and a highly established designer can even turn down a project that they're not interested in.
If a designer manages all of the above consistently and builds a successful career on achieving a high standard of perfection - so much so that clients are queuing up to work with them - one might be forgiven for developing a bit of an ego....
I by no means think that developing an ego is correlated to success, and thankfully there are many more designers who, like me, believe that what we do is less about us than it is about the client.
Designing someone's home is a collaboration - I may be the professional, but it's not me who is going to live in the house when it's complete. The key to a successful collaboration is listening to your client's ideas and being ready to compromise - my client may not love all of my ideas, but at the end of the day it's about them, and my role is to find a solution that they do like. The greatest challenge of all is not just creating a beautiful design and implementing it smoothly - it's about getting to know my clients, understanding their lifestyles and learning what makes them tick. By creating spaces tailored around specific personalities, I find that every project ends up completely unique, despite being led by my own underlying design style.
That's why for me, there's no room for ego in interior design.