Friday, October 18, 2013

"There is no Such Thing as a Design Crisis"

Ha! I just love that, and I love the rest of this excerpt taken from Celerie Kemble's book, To Your Taste. This comes from a portion Celerie has titled "Apologia." If you've ever struggled with the idea of whether interior design has any real purpose or wondered how to keep a level head amidst the materialism we always seem to be knee deep in (especially as design enthusiasts), this should help give some perspective. It has certainly helped me.

I want to be open about what I do, and put it in a larger social context. Interior design in an indulgence, and one that can be very expensive. An appreciation of nice things is an icing-on-the-cake concern. It seems grossly presumptuous when designers casually discuss as "affordable" prices what most reasonable people consider ridiculous. On the other hand, I do what I do as a business, one in which I take great pleasure. In the expensive and sometimes demanding process of helping people create their dream personal spaces, I work with craftsmen and other skilled workers. Their commissions keep alive the traditions of craftsmanship and art in addition to supporting a web of families. 

In the weeks following September 11, 2001, I felt a piercing sense of emptiness as I wandered around the New York Design Center looking for coordinating fabrics for a client who was pushing me to complete my work before a November dinner party. What I perceived at the time as unnecessary drama about an artificially imposed deadline and the trifling concerns of a spoiled woman was the core responsibility of a collaborative design consultant's job - to respond to my clients' needs. It wasn't until months later that I decided I was lucky to be involved in the work of making people happy, even if it was on the level of stylistic indulgence. In the sunshine of this later mood, I saw that my client's urgency came from her desire to create a beautiful new dining room to share with her family in time for Thanksgiving. 

Catering to the whims of some big-budget clients calls for frequent reality checks. I once met a designer (who later opted out of the business) who put our field in proper perspective. He told me about a client of his who was enraged when he wouldn't give her his cell phone number in case she had to call during a design crisis. He told her, "There is no such thing as a design emergency" and was promptly fired. Yet I understand the desire to make your home the most satisfying and flattering embodiment of the life and culture you live. More than mere shelter, your home is the backdrop of your life, and I think it's worth finding the time, the energy, and the means to make it special. Without apology.

Of course we still have to fight to stay balanced as individuals (and say "no" to ourselves sometimes), but keeping constant reality checks like this in front of us is a good aid. Thank you, Ms. Kemble.

Your Thoughts? And... make that 4 posts this week. I'm on a roll. Enjoy your weekend, friends.


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