Seriously, I love every client I have worked with, even those who have made me suffer endless days and nights. Each one of them has imprinted memories in my head that I will never forget. Many people don’t realize how personal the relationship with interior designer gets and forget that this is the person they will be sharing very intimate details with. But how close should the relationship be?
As in every industry, you have to understand your client. You have to listen, absorb, and analyze. The world is full of different tastes, similar to finger prints, almost no two are the same. Trust me I have been a witness of disastrous family fights over a toilet seat or a light bulb. If your design fails, it means you have not listened.
But when is being close too much? When do you draw the line?
I had a client 7 years ago who was in her mid 40’s. A very attractive person inside out and she knew it. She had a problem with budget control, as with many of our clients they want the best and the most exclusive but at “made in China” prices. But this isn’t our story today. Today I want to point out the personal aspect of the relationship.
Those who know me say I am the serious type especially when it comes to work, I throw in comments, metaphors, and jokes only when the time or situation feels comfortable, but still I set boundaries. The boundaries are not for my sake, I’ve seen it all. The boundaries are for the project’s best interest.
Anyway, back to our story.
This client used to sit with me for hours, force me to eat her mom’s cooking, etc.. she was really nice, welcoming, and friendly. Until one day her sister showed up, I barely knew her . She smiled. Kept smiling. I looked at my client for an attempt to understand what was going on. then she asked: “Don’t you notice something different about my sister?”, “shoot”, I said to myself. I am terrible at this, I have issues with memorizing faces, how on earth will I know what to look for?
“You changed your hair color, right? no? hmm… tattooed your eyebrows? lips ?(that’s a Lebanese trademark),ok I get it, Botox? no???!!! I give up!” Turns out she had all of the above mentioned ages ago but I never noticed. Until she looked down her shirt. Aaaah implants, sorry I didn’t notice, but “mabrouk” anyway, good for you. I shifted my attention back to the client and started explaining the possibility of leathers for her sofa until I found myself talking alone. I looked back, the sister has already raised her shirt and was waiting for me to “touch” the implants and tell her how real they felt !!!
That definitely is not within my job description!!!! This is why I asked you, how far should we going our relationships with people who have hired us to do professional work for them?
2 Replies to “From a Designer’s Journal: When to Draw the Line”
I cannot wipe that smirk-y smile off my face! 😛
At most first, I never had a similar incident… and I am forcing myself not to get graphical…at nor to any point if it ever did! hehe but the masculine Maher would say: "Sahar! You can delegate such task to somebody* next time" 😛
But I guess this incident relates to your previous post to good extents and how many people's lives evolve and revolve around that image, constructed and distorted. It never stops to amaze me how much people keep on being sucked in, an abnormality becomes a norm when too many people use it or live it!
Anyway, I guess a world free of that is a world away with the fairies. Then again, maintaining a "healthy" relationship with clients may get blurry at some points such as your incident, and I am not sure where to draw the line; it should be flexible yet not as much!
Yeah smile all you want! It was so awkward I can remember it like it was yesterday. I am aware of how important it is to be close to a client, but this my friend ,is not close, this is harassment!! Yet still I choose to maintain healthy and close relationships with my clients, otherwise I will never be able to deliver the project they want me too 🙂 Next time it happens I know who to call 😀