It’s that time of year again. Many “designers” participate in their local, usually annual, design show house event. PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has lamented on this aspect of our professional public relations effort before. Not to sound like a broken record but each spring the press is literally flooded with pronouncements and advertising promoting the local show house. It is without a doubt one of the profession’s best opportunities to convey its true value to society. A lot of time and effort can be invested in these events and granted many are held as fundraiser events- this is admirable….although does the local symphony count as a viable charity? I digress.
Unfortunately what are usually touted as “designer” show houses with many local prominent “interior designers” showcasing their best, or state of the art “interior design”, are nothing but a mélange of disparate furniture showroom vignettes. Basically the designers, or decorators, are simply throwing paint on the walls, carpet on floors, drapes on the windows and furniture in the space they have been allotted. All venues for these houses are huge mansions that only the 1%’ers could afford so who better to fill all of these rooms?
This is what the public thinks we do. That is sad on so many levels.
Sorry but I am here to say this is not “interior design” it is interior decoration at best and unsustainable temporary decorator showrooms at worst. And given the mish-mash of talent, budget and time I question if it is even good decoration- but then that is part of the draw. People like to see an extreme range of creativity and unaffordable gaudiness seems to sell. There is a voyeuristic quality to these events as well. It is like sneaking in to the rich neighbor’s house down the street and seeing how they live- who doesn’t like that? If HGTV is reading this there is a great new series idea for you. These show house events are chock full of forced stress and drama posing as interior design- how’s that for a free pitch? I digress yet again.
Of course there are exceptions and varying levels of design talent. Some of the general public can take away some inspiration and handy D.I.Y. tips but let’s face it- ultimately this is the Interior Design professions annual Halloween Haunted House event and it is a truly lost opportunity for us to enlighten and educate. Even the show Extreme Home Makeover has more cohesion and attention to a result that improves the lives of the owners. Why can’t we do the same?
Therefore this is PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s annual call for our professional interior design organizations to rethink this entire marketing effort.
Keep the fundraiser focus but maybe emulate the Extreme Home Makeover objective. Don’t just throw a bunch of crap in every nook and cranny of an unsellable monstrosity. Maybe you actually take stuff out to make it more useable. Maybe the owner is aging and the house is just too unmanageable. Or gee maybe you could take a 10,000 square foot McMansion and divide it into 2 or 3 smaller condo units that are redesigned to accommodate aging in place. This would require a level of expertise that would preclude most interior decorators posing as interior designers. Screw the huge mansion venue all together. Try using a more reasonable venue- you know like one that most of us live in. Maybe you could take some of the new stock of vacant unsellable class “B” spec office space, or a vacant strip mall big box retail venue, and turn it into a viable residence for the elderly or low-income. Maybe we could team up with local contractors to facilitate the construction/remodel work….maybe…..
But then who would want to see that?
P.S. In San Fran it is the “decorators show house” but it is done by “interior designers”- go figure.