Excuse me. Yes. You over there. Can I drop a truth bomb?
I know. It will shock you. But, honestly I was more shocked by the fact that I got your question so I figured I’d write a whole article on this topic. Don’t worry. I don’t plan to write a long one, just a few notes to clear this up.
I met with a previous client of mine for drinks the other night. I was doing some market research and he agreed to meet with me to share some of his knowledge and expertise as a seasoned developer. I am always eager to better myself and advance my knowledge and expertise so I was pretty psyched to meet him. It was during this conversation that I became aware of something terribly wrong in our industry.
He offhandedly said in the midst of the conversation, “I look to see if I like the designers taste and style” Now, I’m pretty certain he meant ‘he looks to see if the designers taste and style falls along the look he wants to create.’ At least I hope. BUT that’s also askew.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized, I’ve gotten asked on several occasions; “what is your design style?” Which I always felt funny responding because if you look at my work I’ve done a cross range of styles and design aesthetics. The reason being simply because it’s not about ME. It’s about the END USER and THEIR AESTHETICS, needs and overall energy they are going for. I merely ensure we get to that aesthetic and not botch it up.
In short. The very notion that a designer’s taste and style matters is absurd.
Hear me out before you start arguing.
Please don’t confuse this. I'm not saying that designers can have bad taste or not have the ability to put together a design aesthetic. A designer can't call themselves a designer and not understand underlying tones in materials and how they correlate with each other.
What I am saying is that as a developer. Any developer. It could be a seasoned one or just a newbie. The end goal is to get your property off the market and presumably do it at the highest asking price in the area so your profit margin is at its max potential. If that is the case, your design style, your friends design style, or your interior designer’s style has no play into the equation. The only thing that matters is that the potential buyer, your end user, will go for that style. In order to do that, you or your designer need to know the demographics of the largest percentage of your potential buyer, AND THEY NEED TO BE ABLE TO DESIGN ACCORDINGLY.
Different neighborhoods attract different demographic.The young college students, the artists, young families... You as a developer or designer for a developer must understand the needs, desires, and aesthetic vibe of this group of people and ensure you design accordingly. If not you will end up creating a beautiful space that your market will have no interest in because “they don’t feel it” or “it doesn’t suit our needs.” Which in translation means, you will have a property that will stay on the market and that you’ll have to lower your asking price just to get someone in it.
Unfortunately the design world set themselves up on the premise of ‘this is my style.’ ‘We create spaces that are mid-century modern’ and the list goes on… This might work for a private client who is in search of a designer who has similar taste and style. And yes, I say those words with distaste in my mouth for even with a private client, it is NOT about YOU but THEM. I guess it’s just easier to design a space that you naturally gravitate towards. Although, if you are able to see what goes with what… and which materials work with which…That knowledge and design eye should be transferable across the design aesthetic world. (However that’s another topic that I’ve discussed with my students and fellow designers, but as of yet have not written an article on.) The designer may need to do a bit of research in areas they are unfamiliar with, but putting together schemes Is just that, the ability to see what needs to go into the equation to create the end result of the desired aesthetic.
As developers or designers who work with developers. You need to understand what your market wants and cater to that. It may take some research, but if you don’t go into it with the knowledge, you will end up paying the price later on.
Therefore, the question you should be asking me and other designer is, “I need to create xyz design aesthetic because that is what my market needs, do you have the knowledge and skill to be able to get me the results I need?” Simple.