Teamwork = Successful Design Project

Teamwork = Successful Design Project

It’s been quite a few years since I started working as a Designer and the longer I work, the more I believe this:  it’s all about the Teamwork to get the project done Right.

Usually, a Client hires an Architect or a Builder/Contractor, occasionally an Interior Designer, and that person helps to find the other professionals.  When the Architect comes first, the conceptual and design work get started and then a Designer is suggested to help complete decision-making, including details. In my favorite way, the project then goes out for bid as the project goes into the final design and then the construction phase.  Other times, the Contractor heads a team and recommends the Architect and/or Designer.  From time to time, a whole team is hired at once.  I have mixed feelings about “Design/Build”, but it’s very successful and was a huge part of the years of McMansion construction. In that situation, the Designer is more of a consultant on construction-related trades and does mostly that consultation the decorating (that word again).

In my ideal project, the Designer is brought in early and becomes an advocate and translator for the Client.  Of all those involved, the Designer is most likely to stick around a long time – often years after the construction is completed and the Client settles in.  Ideally, everyone would like to move into a space when every little item is complete, but it’s hard to get it all decided and delivered/installed AND it’s most often not affordable to do all the details at once.  Realistically?  Art and accessories can (should) have the same budget as the furniture. YES!!!  More on that another time.

In order to be properly efficient, it’s all about working together: not working in parallel paths and all trying to be the big boss.  The artisans/suppliers/vendors/manufacturers are all used to working with many Designers and Contractors.  Most Architects don’t handle “finish trades” unless they have Designers on staff.  Designers do furniture and windows and the rest of the decorating items (YES, I DID SAY THAT), but there is overlap with the suppliers available to the Designer and the Contractor.  That’s where the teamwork comes in.  If you play with the team, you also need to include favorites of the homeowner.  OK with me, as long as they are responsible for their work.

When I start a project, I discuss the teamwork project.  I have a list of “team members” that are needed to complete the job and I have a list that I can present plus a typical order for making selections of suppliers and products.  All Designers and Contractors have their favorite “peeps”.  And I sure have mine.  My time of searching for the cheapest deal is LONG gone.  Relationships are much more successful for negotiating a contract than trying out new people only to get a lower price.  Do I work with new tradesmen?  Absolutely!  But they are always referred by the Contractor or the Client before I put a whole new project in their hands. That’s how I meet new people.  There is not one supplier/artisan I work with that does not understand or value consistent referrals and LOYALTY.  I wish more of these specialists could return the referrals with referrals to ME, but that’s not very easy, since they work with other Designers.  Not expected ….I just need their usual top, top quality work and continued friendship and loyalty.  If I need extra or special work, they know the request comes from a serious place.

And there are projects that I have done for my own homes.  Some of the people I work with have supplied work for me in four houses and apartments we lived in before that!  There also are those that I’ve only known a short time who do extraordinary work and I love recommending and working with them, too.  Sometimes I preface my recommendations and introductions with “I don’t let anyone else do this work for me”.   Not long ago, I was reminded by one of “my guys” that I started working with his father when he was 8.  Awesome!  –make me feel old, huh?

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