No day can go bad when you start the day like this:

     “Mark, This is an excellent paper.  You have covered all potential questions with clarity and precision.  You include minimum standards and explanations for the standard.  You are always a great help to me in making decisions.  You are the  acme professional interior designers!  Thank you.

ac·me; noun \ˈak-mē\: the highest point of something”

Believe it or not, I am not crowing about myself! A lot of days you will work your butt off to please your client. Doing everything you can to make them happy and meet deadlines so you can keep that client. Most days we work in a very demanding profession, and gratitude is often forgotten to the stress and tension of deadlines and construction. Then there are moments like this, and in a simple way you feel energized and ready for the next deadline.

This “paper” referenced above was referring to an email that I had put together providing research and cost breakdowns for a product they were trying to make a decision on. I laid out what my criteria was and then proceeded to give them options that met that criteria noting the cost impact it would have on the project; increase, within the same or create a cost savings. All the research this time paid off!

The rest of the day was traveling with another client and team to view mock-ups for our project. We started by reviewing furniture. For many months I researched the design vocabulary and furniture styles of the Eastlake and Gothic design movements – under the umbrella of Victorian design. I concepted  new pieces with Owner direction from antiques and with the help of others pulled those ideas into furniture that was bid by a number of companies. We paid for these companies to produce mock-ups so we could evaluate their craftsmanship and quality. Once these pieces arrived we compared and selected the company we wanted to proceed with. However it is important to note that furniture can be like vehicles. We may all love the BMW or Audi, but often because of cost we have to go with the Hyundai of cars – ok design for a good price, but definitely not a dream car!

Here are two chairs – same design from our concept drawings – made by different companies:

Gothic Arm Chair 1

Gothic Arm Chair with some Eastlake detailing

Gothic Arm Chair 2

Gothic Arm Chair 3

After the review we went to a shop that produces Art Glass for windows and other decorative elements. With the Owner guiding the ship, we tightened up the colors to the patterns. This was done by selecting the actual glass samples/sheets paying attention to both color combinations and pattern contrasts. Some patterns call for a lot of different colors to create the right definition.

Art Glass

Typical Art Glass Samples

The last thing we did was meet with the mill-worker or woodworkers for the project to review more mock ups.  This time the mock ups were doors and their casings, wainscot section and other casework specific to the project. It is a great way to confirm what has been designed and make sure you, the owner and the contractor are on the same page as to what we will be getting. Often the man or the woman that holds the purse for the project doesn’t appreciate this step, because it may lead to more “pennies” coming out of their purse to make a change, but if there is something that isn’t correctly understood, it is better to be “pennies” now, than “dollars” later! Luckily there were only a few minor changes made that  increases some minor overall cost figures, but won’t impact schedule.  I love this part of what designers do. All the research, creating and drawings come into form, and begin to breathe life. And when the Owner is happy at what he sees we all feel more comfortable with the direction we are headed knowing that there will be one less surprise along the way.

door and casement

Eastlake Door and Door Trim

photo 2 (3)


Gothic section

Gothic Detailing


Remember, design doesn’t just happen; well, “good” design, doesn’t just happen. Effort must be applied to research to understand parameters and the details will come together. Some of that research is from books, some from hands on experience like mock ups.  Sure the more experienced we get the less time we may be required to put into understanding new design concepts, but all that time we call “experience” is still just another word for “research” we draw upon to please another client.


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