A Question of Style

As Sara and I build up blog content, and get closer to the official launch of our website, I’ve begun widening the circle of people I’ve told about our business.  A good friend of mine joked that she loved the blog so far, but was disappointed about not being mentioned.  I, also joking as she’s living in a temporary apartment, said that I’d be more than happy to feature her place in a few months after we completely redecorate.  She replied thanks but no thanks, and besides, we have very different design aesthetics.

Now, she and I are old enough friends that I know she didn’t mean anything personal, and it’s very likely that some of the lightheartedness of her comment was lost in email translation, but what she said resonated with me.  There are certainly a handful of designers, think Frank Gehry and his dramatic, rippling Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao, Frank Lloyd Wright’s sweeping cantilevers at Fallingwater, or Zaha Hadid and her jagged, jarring interpretation of the Vitra Fire Station, who have a style so definitive that it sells itself – you often hire designers like these for the prestige, to have one of their signature pieces.  While of course many young designers dream about a day when they might be hired based on name recognition alone, the truth is that it takes time to get there.  It’s likely that even designers with household name recognition dabbled in many styles before attaining iconic status.  (Even the icons know the importance of evolution – Frank Lloyd Wright’s later work is markedly different from his early Prairie Style.) bilbao encarta

Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao http://images.encarta.msn.com

fallingwater - greatbuildingsonline

Fallingwater, photo www.greatbuildings.com

vitra design-museum.de

Vitra Fire Station www.design-museum.de

My point in all this is that the goal of the majority of designers, and specifically Sara’s and mine at EFeDesigns, is versatility.  I don’t believe that a designer should impose their personal style on a client’s space.  How boring would it be to design the same space over and over again!  The job of a good designer is to listen to what the client wants, likes, doesn’t like, and to refine THAT vision and bring it to fruition.  Of course if we think that certain wants are at odds with one another, or will create some functional problems, it is the designer’s job to point this out and work to come to a solution that works well while respecting the original design intent.  The job is NOT to compel a lover of romantic sophistication and intricate detailing to install a minimalist design simply because that what the designer would do in their own home.

Does it make sense to hire a designer based on a love of their previous work?  Of course!  That’s why my hope for this business is to work with a diverse customer base, especially in the beginning, in order to put our ideals into practice, and prove that we are able to not just execute different design styles, but to do it well.  I want it to seem almost like a designer was never there – to understand what a client wants so intimately that the space reflects what they would do themselves if they had the time, resources, and patience.  It also gives us a chance to do things that we might NOT do for ourselves.  I often really admire certain spaces, but know that it wouldn’t make sense for my lifestyle – but how cool is that my job allows me to create that for someone for whom it WORKS!  Plus it helps me see things in a way that I might not have thought of before, and if it helps me evolve my own personal style, so much the better.  🙂

To that end, I think that as we continue to build blog content, and eventually portfolio content, we plan to investigate a diverse mix of styles and atmospheres.  Can you think of a typology or space or design style that we haven’t touched on yet that you’d like to see discussed?  Feel free to make suggestions in the comments!

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