Archive for August, 2010
I wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you. For what…for simply being an inspiration to me. I began selling real estate 8 years ago and since then have fallen in love with design. After completely designing my own home and my country home I fell in love even more. From those experiences I realized that interior design is where my heart lies. With lots of soul searching I uncovered that I did not just want to help people find a home but to create a home, a sanctuary of their own. I love your work and have followed it over the years through the various publications, your books and now your blog. You are not only a talented designer but gifted writer too. Your interviews are always very entertaining. All this to say that you have inspired to me to step out on faith and leave a comfortable career in real estate. I have been accepted to the New York School of Interior Design and will be starting there in the fall. I am also hoping to work part time too. So at 32, I am moving from Houston, Texas and headed to New York City to follow my dreams. I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to my own successful career in interior design some day. Any suggestions/advice you may have for an aspiring designer I would greatly appreciate. Thanks again!
Joshua, you’re coming to the most inspiring city in the world! Museums, shops, neighborhoods, architecture. Utilize them all as much as possible. Places like the Frick Collection where you can walk through a home and see how people lived in the 19th century, or walking through the traditional rooms from all periods and countries at the Met, seeing paintings, colors, textures, visiting the NY Public library, paging through books on design or just walking through the city and seeing what new trends, fashions, colors and points of view are happening…You are going to love it.
BUT, only if you keep your eyes open and learn to see what’s around you – instead of just walking through with eye-flaps on – will you truly gain from this experience. Have fun! And stop by VW Home when you are in the area.
I know that this may make waves, but I found the fact that Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington had overruled the president’s support of stem cell research so upsetting. With so many people needing to find a cure for their illnesses and so many scientists so close to finding solutions for some of the world’s biggest medical problems, can we really afford this now? Of course we want to defend the moral right of cells, just as they start to generate a baby, but then you think about the value of an existing human life compared to a potential one and it becomes a tricky discussion point.
The rest of the world is doing stem cell research, which means that the people of the US are not going to be able to benefit from the discoveries, which will help our economy and our world.
What is your take on this?
(Maybe holidaying is turning me into a political-minded guy? Back to ‘Ask Vicente’s’ for now…)
In the last few weeks I’ve had discussions with prospective clients, other designers and people in the creative field. From the client’s point of view, they’re asking me to reduce my commission – in one particular case, substantially. Other designers that I’ve talked to have told me that they’re reducing their fees and altering how they work to be more flexible, bending more to satisfy the clients wishes. Some of the designers are saying they are shopping more and allowing the client to be much more part of the process. I’m in a quandry. As somebody who’s been working for 37 years a certain way and who has been charging 35% commission since I started in business (and I think this is a fair amount – I don’t mark up, I don’t charge hourly and there’s no design fee, other than rendering).
Do you all feel that this is how things are evolving? Do you feel that our market is changing where clients were much more interested in fine design finished project, now it’s much more at the level of reality tv? Are you being asked to cut your commisison and alter the way you’ve always worked? Do you feel that this is a long-term thing and that times are changing?
I would love to hear your opinion.
Subject: Ask Vicente: Collecting
I am interested in starting another collection of some type but haven’t been inspired by anything yet. I collected Wedgwood Nautilus pieces for a while, but grew tired of them (I kept my two favorite pieces and sold the rest). I recently saw a picture of someone’s Ouija board collection displayed in their home office and thought that was a very interesting collection! I need something fun easy, affordable and interesting like that to collect! Do you collect anything or have any suggestions for an interesting collection?
Dallas, TX. USA
What peaks your interest, Karen? You can collect anything – from bottle caps to impressionist paintings. Analyze what appeals to you and what is available for you to select from to start a collection. I collect photography, buddhas, seashells, pipes, (check the story on Lonny) and sculls and I also have collections at the beach house.There is no right or wrong here. Just have fun with it.
I don’t know if any of you out there ever watched American Pickers – well it’s about these two guys who go and find stuff and then sell it to antique shops and other dealers. They go searching for things all over and then talk about the items with a little history. Another one I love is Antique Roadshow where professionals look at antiques and clarify to the owners what exactly it is that they own. I find it so fun to guess the history and estimated value of these items are.
Do any of you watch these shows? How good is your estimating of the values? (Though, if you’re all constantly blogging, I don’t see how you find time to watch TV!)
I adore your work! Have all your books!!
Love your use of bone in-laid chairs. Quite often you add seat cushions, are they down filled or do you use a simple filler?
How many inches in thickness do you recommend for such seat cushions?
Many thanks, Lisa
Lisa, I usually make them about two inches thick. They’re usually filled with Kapok – an organic tree product – or horse hair, never down as it will flatten out when you sit on it. Whatever you use to fill the cushion needs a dense consistency. Your seating area should be brought up to 18″ seat height if it’s for dining.
Again, for one who is ignorant about the byways and highways of social media, I think it’s interesting how people can use it to connet. It was so flattering that one of my Facebook friends made friends with someone else who is on my list and, because of this connection, will now be working together. It makes the world even smaller, doesn’t it?
Here’s the note I received from my Facebook friend, outlining the situation (I have changed names and other facts to keep it anonymous):
To all the readers out there, if we are not yet Facebook Friends, please link your page to mine here.
This might sound off the wall, but… in your beautiful book, Learning to See, page 92 shows an 18th century French table with an oak storage cube under it at the side of a bed. Could you envision a much longer table in a family room to act as the stand for a flat screen tv with a wider chest or 2 chests underneath it to house the video components? Or the Tv could be on the wall above it. I love that look, but the room needs to be very utilitarian. Thanks for any input. Randi
Randi, I think that what you’re seeing in that bedroom is a concept. One that can be translated into any space. The important thing is a balance of scale and a very exuberant traditional table with a very straight line contemporary piece. You need the ying and yang to make that statement. Whether it is an old Jacobean table with a very modern cube or a very slick modern table with something traditional tucked underneath it. it’s up to you how you want the elements to read in the space. Let me know what your choice is!
I’m a designer from the Midwest and have always admired your work. I know in the past your blog has addressed clients and your working relationship with them, and I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on the following:
My father started our firm over 30 years ago, and we’ve being lucky to live in a community where we have always operated on an honest handshake. However, we realize that in today’s business world clients are more savvy and not always loyal. As much as I hate to admit it, we have been burned recently as clients enjoy seeing our ideas and proposals, but when it comes to purchasing products, they feel no obligation. What has been obvious to you and possibly many others is now clear and necessary for us as well: we need a contract.
Without revealing private information, could you please give some insight into how your client contracts are designed? What are the key points in them? How do ensure your time is not wasted and your talents not stolen without scaring the client away?
Finally, are you speaking in the Midwest sometime soon? I’ve seen you twice in Minneapolis and always enjoy hearing your insights on the profession.
Thank you for your time.
Mark, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business. Having a contract is the thing that sets the rules of engagement. It tells the client what to expect from you and what you expect from them. Without those things you’re winging it and especially now, at a time when businesses are suffering, maintaining a professional front gives the client the security – and you the protection – that you both need. Talk to legal representative to formulate a contract. You want to tell them what you bill, what you expect from them. You need an out if they don’t pay you, you have to list the areas you’re working on, what your budget is, how you’re going to bill the deposit and how you’re going to bill the balance. Nobody should be out there working without a contract because they can turn around and screw you over and you won’t have a leg to stand on.
I’m impressed that you’ve seen me talk twice! We’re embarking on a book tour in October – I’ll be sure to post a list of places we’re stopping by up here so you can know when I’ll be near where you are.
No I’m still not mooing, though I feel like I should fall on all fours and start eating raw grass! The raw diet is going okay so far. I’ve gotten my housekeeper to start preparing raw salads, not just green but corn, tomato and cucumber salads and it’s going okay so far. I feel no extra energy. I’ve lost no extra pounds. But I guess it’s only been ten days since I started… I’m sneaking in a crakcer here and there, but at least I’m making the effort, right? Will keep you posted.
Also, help needed! Has anybody been to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan? I’m going there in January on my annual trip. If any of you have done anything great there, please let me know as I’m starting the planning process this week. I’m also going to be in St Petersburg for four days. What is not to be missed? Have you seen or eaten anything (raw or cooked!) that you’d like to share?
I’d really appreciate it.