Interior Designers at Work

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER was reprimanded recently by a LinkedIn group page manager for making unprofessional comments in an off topic debate about the profession of interior architecture; http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=956917&type=member&item=131084231&commentID=88314209&qid=7cb61ab1-2cde-4f62-9d96-ef7cd961a04f&goback=%2Egmp_956917#commentID_88314209

I was provoked and I lost my typical PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER literary cool- I am sorry.  Unsure if I offended only the group manager or the entire profession…well okay the dozen or so professionals that actually follow that forum, I am now hesitant to post my real and honest thoughts on any public forum not of my own making.  Not to mention the possibility of garnering a reputation as an obsessive compulsive  self-righteous ego maniacal jack-ass with anger management issues and nothing better to do than hog any online discussion pertaining to the profession of “Interior Design”.

I should know better.  On to my point.

I was just about to post a comment in reply to a new thread on the Interior Design Educators Council LinkedIn group discussion page http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=969667&trk=anet_ug_hm&goback=%2Egmp_969667  which links to this blogpost; http://www.disd.edu/wordpress/2012/07/31/putting-the-id-in-idec/?goback=%2Egmp_969667%2Egde_969667_member_141039624.  I appreciate Ms. Homme’s supportive words about the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) but when I scrolled to the picture of who I assume is Ms. Homme (I do not know her) sitting in her resource library I began to feel my  blood pressure rising and my qwerty fingers twitching.

WHY DO ALL OBLIGATORY IMAGES OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS AT WORK INVOLVE FABRIC SWATCHES AND PAINT CHIPS?

The little censor guy in my left ear convinced me to chill down and not comment directly on the thread as it would undoubtedly be misconstrued and potentially offensive to the author. Fortunately the anarchist guy in my right ear was sleeping off a 3 day bath salt huffing bender so I acquiesced to the responsible voice.

That’s where this blog comes in handy.

So I got to thinking.  If we want so desperately to free ourselves of the decorator stereotype (not that there is anything wrong with decorators) why do we continue to portray ourselves as such?

And AM I OVERREACTING?

Well of course I am overreacting but the former question remains unanswered.

So in the interest of vitally important research I Google Image searched “Interior Designers at Work”. Go ahead try it. Now Google Image “Architects at Work”. ID’ers are typically female and surrounded by paint chips, paint cans (not sure where that came from), fabric samples and the occasional simplified floor plan. There are no images of interior designers on construction sites wearing hard hats, pointing to some impossibly unresolvable mechanical/electrical/plumbing systems clash with a burly contractor hanging on every gesture and word.  We all know that maybe 5% of our work involves finish selections…but I guess images of overworked and overstressed design professionals nodding off in front of their computer because it froze up on the 2 terrabyte rendering file they were trying to correct is not very visually appealling…I digress.

Of course typical images of architects at work show them wearing hard hats and leading interested groups of awed subordinates and clients surrounding large sets of complex blueprints on some monumental construction site.

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER finds this dichotomous imagery both amusing and frustrating.

What should a professional interior designer at work really look like?

or this?

I think it can if we want it to.

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6 responses to “Interior Designers at Work

  1. You are not the only one who asked this question:
    “WHY DO ALL OBLIGATORY IMAGES OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS AT WORK INVOLVE FABRIC SWATCHES AND PAINT CHIPS?”

    And not the only one who second-guessed themselves about commenting on that post.

    I think a new phrase could be coined for bad interior design marketing and promotion: “a swatch piece”. In a sentence: “I thought that article might be good for my students to read, but it turns out it was just a swatch piece”.

    Sometimes bad marketing happens to good designers, but if we require final approval on all marketing and publicity then we have an opportunity and (IMHO) an obligation to do some course correction when we see a swatch piece in the making.

  2. So then if Bigfoot were to declare herself an interior designer and take a self-shot for marketing purposes would that be a Saswatch piece?

    I firmly believe in freedom of speech, even if you are the bigoted owner of a privately held company, and while it would be sweet to review and approve all the nations interior design marketing collateral for swatch content, that isn’t going to happen……anytime soon.

    But we can continue to ask the question;

    “If we want so desperately to free ourselves of the decorator stereotype (not that there is anything wrong with decorators) why do we continue to portray ourselves as such?”

    Maybe it will help.

    • Oh yeah, of course we can’t – and shouldn’t – police the world’s communications. I was referring to articles, like the one in reference, over which we each have some personal control. For example, if a PR piece is being done about your firm’s volunteer efforts with Habitat: many times if you ask you can have final approval of the content before it goes to print. Of course there are times when that’s not the case and stuff just gets printed/photographed/swatchified.

      Returning to your question, some answers that came to mind:

      - Because it’s the only way we know how to portray ourselves in media
      - Because we think color and pattern are more appealing than drawings and construction materials
      - Because we do whatever the writer / photographer tells us to do
      - Because we are unwilling to say ‘no’ to opportunities that will portray us as decorators
      - Because the decorator image is iconic, and immediately recognizable
      - Because we don’t know any better
      - Because we don’t know how to do any differently

      Not all of these apply to all situations, mind you, but your question opens up the discussion of many possible reasons why we continue to portray ourselves almost exclusively as decorators.

      Saswatch piece. Yes.

  3. Same issue applies to ASID’s tacit support of DESIGN CAMP and the annual “design” showhouses…of course if those were to be marketed as strictly events celebrating interior decoration, which they are, then PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER would have to find something else to write about…….now I wonder if sasquatch is really a woman, or a male…maybe it is both……maybe it shape-shifts to whatever it needs to be…..yeah…I think I am onto something……..

  4. Interesting discussion. I guess they just want to portray their job as a dream job to those like me who know nothing about it, who then make up all these ideas of what is must be like?

    Nobody really wants to show everyone all the stressful crappy things about their job.

  5. Unless of course your job is running a sewage treatment plant where your compensation is based on volume. Crappy and stressful.

    Maybe we should just stick to nicely posed headshots.

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