The diagram illustrated above caught my attention last week on Facebook, and particularly the top right photo is what really caught my eagle eye. Illustrated we have a lovely woman, whom I have never met, and I have no judgement toward, but whom is theorized to be an interior designer that is thin, "beautiful", and highly sexual. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with being sexual, nor am I saying that there is anything particularly good about it, but on the same day I read and article written by Paola Gavilanez, RID, IDC, NCIDQ 24456, LEED GA that said:
When asked what interior designers do, the majority of the public will answer that ‘we have a flair for accessorizing; a good eye for colour and will use our knowledge of fabrics and aesthetics to make a room beautiful’. But this is what decorators do. Decorating is an important part of what some interior designers do, but only a small part. (source)
Although I must point out that the NCIDQ route is not the only design certification route out there (namely AKBD, CKD, CBD, CMKBD as well), what is similar between the article and the illustration is that somehow, someway, society has come to think that decor and design are synonymous and that in order to be successful we must be beautiful and that we make things pretty. Both points illustrate something I have written about before, and every designer knows it and tries to distance themselves from it, that the advent of HGTV as a network television as both objectified and created a myth that interior design is decorating, and, in order to be successful as an interior designer we must also fit the fashion mould of thin is beautiful. And be a woman. Or a puff.
I know many wonderful designers, they are not models, flamers, or thin. I know many that are beautiful, butch, and exceptionally unique. We must find a way to handle this professionally because we let this happen to our profession. I think it's personally good to watch HGTV because you can understand what your client thinks and have an intelligent conversation about expectations, budget, decision making, scope, construction delays, a messy house without a working kitchen, people coming in and out of your space all day and every day, and even a have a bit of fun with the process - that's what I do and it works.
Many of you know me on twitter (@coreyklassen) and will either disagree or agree with my slant on this profession. You know that I am pretty big on the relationship, connection, communication, authenticity, and anthropomorphic requirements of the user trumping the rules. Some of you may notice that I use the hash-tag "#glamdesignerlife" from time to time when I discover or feel a connection to my profession that isn't what I expected, but more over I use that tag to almost proclaim what is the exact opposite of what you see on-screen. For those designers on Twitter, feel free to join me and tag your Tweets so we can share a laugh.
So for all the clients out there that think we are going to sweep you off your feet and you will cry when we "reveal" your space, the reality is that it will likely not happen because you will be there every single step of the way and involved in every single decision. Decisions will be hard, some times you will have to make them quickly, and sometimes you may not afford the choice you want to make, but interior design is fun, complicated, amazing, worth while, and I love every minute of my job. I am so lucky to be involved. Sometimes it is sad when the project is over and we move on with our separate lives because I really think all my clients are amazing.
Keep doing alluring, but not sexy, work!