Archive for November, 2009
After being through a dry spell business-wise, I am (bite my tongue) seeing it clear a little bit. I don’t know if it’s the light at the end of the tunnel or just the headlights in the night of a speeding car heading my way, but I think things could be getting better. I even find it happening at VW Home, which really hasn’t been affected that much this year – probably because the merchandise is quite unique. But there seem to be more phone calls, more people committing and more opportunities out there.
How are things looking on your side? Is it the right kind of light?
Name: Kathryn Krughoff
How do you avoid working for “non-paying” friends?
By choosing not to! I have found that if you do it for nothing, usually they won’t respect your opinion because they’ll subscribe to the notion that “what you get for free you really don’t trust”. I would definitely give them a discount on your services, but clear the financial agreement upfront – be very black and white about it. If they insist on not paying you, it shows disrespect for you as a creative person and as a friend and that is just not acceptable.
Despite all the things that this year has slung our way, there is still plenty to be thankful for, right? I have my health back and for that I guess I am most thankful right now.
I feel like I never made a special mention here of the amazing nurses at NYU Medical Center where I spent two weeks in October. They work such long stretches that start by bathing you at 4am and they just keep going non-stop all day long. Then, when you get better, you leave and they go on to the next sick person. It’s so tough. Yet they stay patient and kind and I think we can all take a leaf from that book.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
I’m designing a new collection of tile for a major tile producer and I’ve been trying to gather ideas and inspirations. Among the places I went to for that was the Whitney Museum where there is a really beautiful retrospective on Georgia O’Keefe and her earlier work. It is not the intense color and graphic style that one is accustomed of seeing of her. It’s beautiful, soft coloration and really such romantic paintings, plus a wonderful photograph that her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, took of her. It’s running until January 2010 and a must if you’re in New York.
As the boss you have to suffer the slings and arrows, the fears of money going out and not coming in, the expectation of the phone ringing with a new client (or not!), but the other side of being in charge is that you are ultimately responsible for keeping your staff feeling that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. After all, one is the parent to the children in this equation and children get scared very easily, especially when they hear of problems all around them.
My way of encouraging is by trying to think of creative challenges that allows them to put their creativity to work – whether it is working on a charity event that we have to design a chair for, or working on a new tile collection or rethinking how we will move the office around to keep it working better, taking excursions to different museums to find inspiration in color and compositions, piling them all into a train to go to Philadelphia to see an art exhibition…we just have to keep the creative juices flowing.
I do try to still be realistic with them about business, keeping them abreast of what’s coming up, what worked and what didn’t so they feel that they’re in the loop. As a business owner in a creative industry, payment can come in many different ways – everybody here is working towards the future and if you can help them to expand their range of vision, that can be an enormous compensation. Thank God it’s not wall street where it’s all about the buck! This is about seeing beyond what’s in front of us and letting our imaginations be free and at the end, you start to lift up your own spirits as the boss, because we’re creative people as well and we get to tap on our positive sides.
In this office the way that we bring a job to conclusion is by installing it all at once. Everything is scheduled to be completed and delivered close to one particular date (installation date) and what is finished sooner gets put in storage or kept at the office or sometimes held by the supplier. It is our aim to have it all ready for that installation date.
Suppliers are checked, we go to the upholsterers and cabinet makers to check everything, emails are sent to suppliers to let them know what the installation date is and we all hold that date as the golden day. Prior to installation date whatever construction work is needed is done, the space is painted, floors are finished and then window treatments are done, the carpeting is installed and on a selected day, everything is delivered still wrapped.
The following day everything is unwrapped and placed. Accessories are brought in on consignment along with fresh flowers, candles, the works. We ask the client not to be there when this work is being done and then at an assigned time, the front door opens and the space the client saw in the renderings is brought to life.
Then of course everybody is happy and they all live happily ever after.
Well, that’s the way it is always planned, but the reality with suppliers, as with life, is always very different.
There’s always a truck broken down on a highway somewhere (garage attendants must make a fortune on broken delivery trucks), items that you have checked and rechecked get damaged in waiting, or, like in a particular job that we are installing right now, we saw all the parts of the mirror being put together and approved it, but the mirror got made a foot larger than it was supposed to. So three days before the installation, Moe from my office is waiting for it to come in and we realized that it’s too large. So now we have to call the manufacturer, show a great deal of desperation over the phone, put the mirror back in the truck, send it back to the factory, have it recut and the back refinished and then pray that it will be delivered on time on Monday for installation and Tuesday’s walk-through with the client. Sheets from Restoration Hardware that were supposed to be delivered are lost in transit, those lovely pre-recorded computer generated automated people on the other side of the line really never gets you to the real person you want to talk to, that could maybe solve their mistake and now we have messengers picking up different aspects of the total set from different stores to be able to have the bed made for installation date. That workman who always walks through on carpets with some undefined material stuck to the bottom of his shoe…getting a cleaning person there to take the stain out. The temperamental sound system installer who requires the whole apartment empty before they proceed to mess it up with all their equipment. With today’s flu pandemic (swine or other tsunami), people who were supposed to be at work are off sick, same with suppliers and with Thanksgiving around the corner, we toil and sweat (and we’re not even mailmen!) to get the installation – regardless of rain, sleet or snow – done on time.
These are none of the things that the client sees as one walks through the space, making it seem that all we did was be fairy designers, waving our wand and making their dreams come true. (Bull, we’re not fairies and if somebody has a wand, please, I’ll pay for UPS to pick it up from you and promise to return it.)
Is there a wand out there? Please contact this office ASAP!
I feel like a hypocrite. Like somebody who has sworn to one point of view, and now it’s changing midstream.
I have been given a Kindle and I am embarrassed to say that I have bought books online, and am planning to use it.
Yes I know that I’ve said that touching a computer is like wearing polyester. But the thought of traveling for many weeks through Africa and the Orient, lugging five big, thick books that will add to my overweight and sore lower back is more than an old dog can bare.
So, kicking, screaming, crying, growling, protesting and annoyed, I have taken my first step into computerville. And to all you other old codgers out there who have also sworn not to touch any form of a computer, I apologize.
Please forgive me.
BTW, The books that I’ve bought so far are:
The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – a Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson & Martin Dugard
Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens by Mark Lamster
Redeeming Features by Nicholas Haslam
I have had clients come to me and say that they’re doing a wine cellar, how should they do it. And it’s always the usual approach – having it be very utilitarian. This all changes with Samantha Nestor’s new book, Living With Wine, which really opens up the possibilities of what wine rooms can look like.
I’m very lucky to have one of my designs included with my restaurant, Alto, which has walls of wine rack from the back of the banquets to the ceiling. This design was inspired by Damien Hirst’s medicine cabinets and photographer Andrew French did a great job of capturing the space. It is so nice to see my work in the book’s large scale.
Highly recommended for all wine aficionados!
My first project 36 years ago was published in House Beautiful and I have had the privilege since then to work with most of the top interior design magazines and their editors. Some of these publications still exist, others have come and gone, but the one thing that has been a constant amongst all the successful ones is their integrity and how they manage to stay true to their brand. What many of you may not know is that there is a split between editorial and advertising that is similar to the split between church and state. Editorial will never be influenced by advertising as that would seriously hamper the integrity of the magazine and maintaining a high integrity is the holy grail to all editors-in-chief.
In my post yesterday I wanted to express my sadness at the demise of another publication with such integrity. I also feel frustrated at the amount of publications that are still around. Every single designer out there dreams of being published in a magazine, but very few of us are lucky enough to have that opportunity. When the number of high quality outlets dwindle down to only five, even fewer of the really talented designers have the chance of being featured, because, let’s face it, there are only so many pages per magazine.
I agree with those readers who have commented on the post below about how the richness of picking up a magazine and leafing through the pages will never disappear. How it looks and how you can pass it around the room and show to different people cannot happen on a computer screen. All the pages, whether modern or mid-range or traditional have a richness because of paper, printing and it makes a designer’s work really shine.
While I cling to my love for magazines and the experience of reading one, I hope that there is an opportunity in our future that will allow all designers to have the exposure they need in order to get new business and build up a hefty ‘look book’ to showcase their work.
It is sad that in our industry, where publications are the inspiration and the platform from which we can show our work and worth, top quality magazines keep closing. To me the closing of Met Home feels like a personal loss. Editor-in-Chief Donna Warner is a great friend and a really special lady and Linda O’Keeffe, the editor that I most worked with at the publication, is somebody who is great fun to work with as a photographer and an editor who really allowed my work to shine.
You know, we think that the economy only affects us in our work and in our capability of getting clients, but here is one more affect of how it keeps eroding our capabilities to expand our exposure and expand our possibilities of getting work. We’re basically left with five national magazines in which to showcase our work and it is a sad state of affairs, which creates a situation where more demands are made on us of what these magazines want to show, which affects how we choose to design spaces, which affects the working relationship where magazines can become demanding and force us to go through the eye of the needle to be able to appear on their pages.
The conditions that we as designers have to adhere to in order to appear in their pages, gives us no recourse but to succumb and adjust, in some cases our design and in other how we choose to represent our work, and in turn affect how people view the work, the trends that they see coming down the pipe and the sense of what is the state of design. (If more magazines are traditional, more traditional work will appear which will give the impression that traditional is the direction of design.) Nationally, only Elle Décor is left out on the marketplace, to show contemporary work that speaks of clean, simple design. We’re lucky in a city like New York where magazines like NY Spaces give us another venue of exposure.
The closing of Met Home is a great loss to our industry.