Working with a Designer. Part One: Why hire a designer?

bus card backHave you wished for a stunning space like you’ve seen in magazines? Do you want your small business to make more of an impression on your customers? Have you spent years collecting furniture and accessories that you loved in the store, only to be dissatisfied with the total outcome of your space? Do you keep your style simple and boring for fear that you’ll make a mistake?

When was the last time you were in a luxurious hotel lobby, a stylish restaurant or a friend’s new kitchen that really impressed you? Do you suppose the design happened on accident? 99% of the time, it was the vision and experience of a professional designer who created that masterpiece.

If you have the impression that Interior Designers are only appropriate for the affluent and pretentious, please allow me to persuade you otherwise. Just like any other contractor, Designers are professionals. Instead of being experts in one building system (plumbing, electrical) or one furnishing specialty (drapery or furniture), Designers are professionals who are educated and experienced in ALL building systems and in ALL furnishings. Interior Design is the art of creating environments and the science of managing time and budgets. We use all of our previous experience, all that we learned in four years of specialized curriculum, and that special intangible gift we have for taking the personalities and needs of the people who will use the space. We balance the big picture and the small details. We manage budget, schedule, contractors and everyone’s feelings while making sure our clients’ dreams come true.

Chinese Architecture

Many thanks to our intern, Katie McGuire for another thoughtful article.

It’s no secret that Asia is home to some of the most innovative and impressive architectural structures today. Asia is a continent and therefore cannot be explored fully in one blog, of course, so today let’s just look at some inspiring pieces from China. But before we get to the good part, you might be wondering, what does interior design have to do with architecture? How does it relate, and why can’t one be substituted for the other? Well, intelligently planned architecture and interior design definitely function hand in hand, but it is possible and dare I say common, to have one without the other. It is not unusual to find a beautiful architectural structure with terrible outdated interior design, and vice versa.  I would hazard to say that one of the biggest differences between architecture and interior design is the aspect of time. Interior design is much more fluid than architecture. It depends on high fashion and relates directly to current style. Architecture seems to have more of a timeless aspect. The trends are longer and will be repeated and improved on in the following decade or so. While this is true, interior design does seem to ride the coattails of new architectural trends, although the trends are much more varied within the 10 year time spans. However, in order for an occupiable structure to be aesthetically pleasing to all it needs both. Some would say that interior design can be sacrificed if the architecture is designed well enough, but that is simply not true. If architecture is the bones of the body, interior design is the muscles, skin and organs. The body will not function without all the parts.

But now back to China. I know you all want to look at some fantastic structures, and I won’t disappoint. First let’s look at the Eco Bridge in the Chonqing mountain area. Its long and sinuous lines evoke feelings of movement and fantasy. The design was implemented by Taranta Creations

Space Saving Design

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Guest Blogger:  Katie McGuire, Intern

Bigger is better. Does that sound right? This is the general philosophy here in Colorado when it comes to design. We want big houses for our huge furniture on lots of land. In the Midwest where acres of land are generally affordable, this philosophy has always worked, until now.

In our collection of sprawling furniture stores near Denver, we have recently added the only IKEA for states around. It was a massive sensation, and the opening was anticipated by people as far away as Arizona. The store itself is huge and houses an overwhelming amount of case goods, fabrics, and anything else you can think of. But wait, this isn’t our typical boxed furniture store, how can something so different from the Denver usual generate so much excitement? The designs are outlandishly different from the mountain cabin and ranch traditional we see throughout the state. All the products are smaller and more compact. But everything is inexpensive, and one way to get the average person out of habitual behavior is to offer them good deals. The Swedish juggernaut is popular throughout the world, but this idea of minimalist design is fairly uncommon in the Midwest where we treasure our space.

However, valuing space does not necessarily mean using as much as possible. In fact, value could be determined by how well one uses the space. In addition, considering what is left behind for future generations has become vital to the economy.  In light of recent economic stress, many people are scaling down their homes to conserve finances, and turning to what Europe has been implementing for years: Space economy.

Many Americans consider space saving as adding an extra bookshelf or rack within the space, but a designer looks at the problem much differently. Instead of editing a space after the fact to try to squeeze some functionality out of it, we do extensive planning and carefully study how the space is constructed to create an area which is inherently space efficient, utilizing not only storage components, but the architecture itself to work for the client’s needs. That means an intimate knowledge of ergonomics, how a person interacts with the space, and the need for comfort. A well designed small space will feel large, despite the lack of square footage. With the rush of suburban expansion, most of these skills are sacrificed for production volume. But now that we are faced with economic hardship, it is time to stop living bigger and start living better.

If you are thinking about expanding or moving to a larger residence, consider redesign instead. In most cases it will be much more cost effective, and the result is just as gratifying, if not more. If you are considering scaling down, look for a home that fits you exactly right, and then use what money is left over to customize your refuge to your exact personality. You don’t need a large home to be happy, you only need good design.

Here is some additional reading if you are interested in the space saving movement:
1.       Small Spaces: Stylish Ideas for Making More of Less in the Home