Offering interior design and interior decorating guidance to a new client requires , more than anything , the ability to listen. The best interior designers and decorators asks questions… the worst in my opinion, walk in with an entourage and clip boards, dictating style, telling the client what will be done. The decorator might have a vision, but its essential that this vision does not over take the very realistic requirements of each project and that style direction truly meshes with the clients sense of aesthetics; because after all, the designer gets to leave after each project… the client has to live with this choice for a very long time.
The design process may portray itself as one of the mystical exotic arts, but actually, it’s more like painting a picture, with the designer providing the tools. paint and brush strokes, and the client choosing the subject. Achieving correct scale, creating colour themes, carrying these themes to other rooms, establishing room layout to achieve the best traffic flow, are a few of the skills found in the designers tool box. Themes and style are extremely personal and although the space itself can often lead the design direction, it’s the homeowners outlook that has to be interpreted to fit the environment.
I feel that a decorator needs to be well versed in the history of many design trends in order to keep these adaptive skills flexible; If you study the art deco movement for example, it can lead you to the influence of so many of the trends of today, however that period also had it’s influence in ancient Greece, as seen clearly in the design of the ‘ Klismos’ chair.
A real test of skill can come when the decorator needs to combine different styles to express a clients more eclectic tastes, and add drama to a space.
This can also be achieved through scale and contrasting colours , or by juxtaposing themes, such as upholstering an antique French chair with a contemporary geometric fabric, or a mid century modern sofa, in a stamped Florentine velvet.
Once again, it bears repeating, that direction and theme has to reflect the life style, practical needs and aesthetics of the user, and its only when the designer achieves this, that they can say that the project was truly a success.