The House We Live In (image free)

Needless to say things have been busy for my fledgling boutique interior design firm, and that is good news. In the last year I have made my share of big mistakes, so big that almost shut my doors and started pounding the pavement looking for a job-job but was not enough to stop me. I joined the Blanco Kitchen Design Council, changed from teaching drafting to teaching design and moved my whole life 6 blocks to a skypad. I even took on some contracted staff and augmented my services more inline with the current ID and independent K&B market. All in all, 2012 has been pretty good to me. While I was in yoga practice yesterday, which has been an integral part of my design-career and life in general, the instructor said a quote that make me think: (probably too much)

"The words you speak become the house you live in." - Hafiz

While I have learned a lot from the big changes in the past year, something about that quote hit me like a tonne of bricks. BAMB! So, there I was, nestled into sukasana like a bug in a rug, and now nothing I did shook this quote from my mind.

After the class I realized that what i was struggling with was actually the smaller changes in the past year and that I learned the greatest amount from. It was the conversations I had that galvanized my 2012. In a world of ever-changing technology, social media, applications, software, environment, products, materials and climate, our clients, peers and businesses are also changing. As we go into 2013, how can we bridge the gaps between our two design industries and our varying types of clients?

1. Understand Change, Be Flexible

Change is a hard thing to grasp for most designers. I am the first to admit (on my soapbox) that we want things the way we designed them but I am the last to hold anyone to a firm plan. Yes, we do not appreciate all our hard work being modified without our knowledge or disregarded because someone else thinks they know better. No one likes a know-it-all but no one likes a pre-Madonna either so it is best that we really begin to pay attention to what we are projecting on-site and in our offices. This is what I now practice with my clients and allied professionals. Understanding flexibility.

2. Abandon Tradition, Push Limits

I recently completed a complete project for a whole home renovation in six (6) weeks from programming to contract documentation - alone. I think that is a great accomplishment, if I do say so myself. The clients did not suspect but the contractor knew the strain I was under. It was not a good situation for the client but it was a good way for me to flex my creative muscles and colour outside the lines. I am not saying that every designer needs to thrown in the design-towel, but I am suggesting that if you know the process why not skip a few of the boring steps and blast right through to the end? As long as drawings are documented well and there are no major errors, we can all comfortably push the limits.

3. Expand You Skill-sets, Be Fearless

The upcoming generation of designers sees things differently and they have a whole set of new skills. It is not a threat, it is a fact. I teach many adults - with varying ages and backgrounds - everything from design basics to advanced software techniques and I'm never the youngest nor the oldest in the room. The one and only thing that I see far to often is, well, fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of not knowing something, and fear of communicating. If you have been one of my students you may have heard me talk about this, but it is really a do or die situation out there for most of us. It takes a lot to put on my pomp-pomps and root for the under-dog some days, but, really, anyone can do anything they want at any age. Just be fearless.

4. Visualize and Be

So much of out time is spent on busy work but we seldom stop to see what we are creating. For some of us this works better than others, but for the rest of us we need something concrete, like lists, to feel accomplishment. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with being stuck in a rut of the daily grind but if you want to step out of it you need to visualize what that is. I use this technique when I am thinking about a project, a space, or something as simple as a cabinet detail. Visualization, along with a healthy yoga practice, has helped me help myself and it has also helped me look at something in stasis, or stop motion, to troubleshoot a problem.

5. Talk Honestly

I think this goes without saying, and I will keep this one brief, but a little bit of sincerity in your tone goes a super long way. Think of your Grandmother when you are talking to someone and you will more than get your point across and win a few hearts.

What do you value as the house you live in?