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Attention to Intention

Many a times the approach to design is almost haphazard. I can't even begin to count the frantic phone calls I get from people who "just" need someone to pick their color, or help the contractor with the tiles. I usually reject these projects. Not that I think it's a bad thing to do - but like everything in life, timing is everything.

Same as you don't expect the musician to go on stage and "just" wing it with a complex musical piece, or eat at your kids "just" opened restaurant. You can't expect a designer to "just" figure it out on the spot, or fix it of for you. Design is a thoughtful and interact process. Yes is seems easy onHGTV, but have no illusion these are highly professional designers that have worked endless hours hunched over studio tables .The fact that the final results (though not always my taste) looks so easy, is all the more to their credit.

Elegant and simple solutions call for a backing of education, thoughts, ideas, experience, and a lot of listening, they don't just get pulled out of a hat. When starting the work of design a lot of effort goes into listening, and my main question would be - what's the intention? Not in a programatic practical way of - this is the entry way to the office. But in the deeper sense of what does this space mean to you and your company? Is it the place where you dump your coats in the morning, or is it the 'welcome' wagon for new employees, potential clients? Figuring out what the intention is sometimes like breaking a code of sorts. Yes there is the functionality of a space but how it reads to the people who engage in it, that is a whole other story. As a designer you need to articulate a client's intentions and many projects are lost, or become frustrating to both parties when these intentions are not made clear enough, or when there is no time to figure them out.

No corner was left unturned. Photo credit Emily Neumann
No corner was left unturned. Photo credit Emily Neumann

A few years ago I worked with a super particular client who demanded a lot of attention to the seemingly minuet detail of "is it easy to clean?". It drove me crazy (and trust me I like my granite polished like a mirror all hours of the day). I mean here was a person that could certainly afford some help in cleaning. But the more I got to think about it, the more sense it made to me in a Feng-Shui kind of way. 

Her words were a call for Attention to Intention - yes getting the next glamours tile is awesome, but if it can't be cleaned properly it will look dull and tacky. Every corner of that project had to be throughly thought out, you couldn't just place a plant to hide a dust filled corner. And with a historical building in Boston, figuring out how to round the corners and make the floor level, made for an extremely intense project. Turned out to be a successful project, mainly because the intention was always communicated and thought about clearly and thoroughly.


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