I am extremely, almost obsessively visual. I love when the stream of images coming in my eyes stops the multiple layers of chat going on inside my head (and on my iPhone.) When something says to me “Look, this is beautiful, just look” I think that this feeling, of being in the flow of beauty, is why many people visit museums, or hike the high Sierra, or visit gardens. They want to experience being taken out of themselves by beauty.
I actually get to create this feeling in my work, for my self, and hopefully for my clients. However, in order to do so, I have to pay close attention to so many things about the world around me. I have to truly enter into seeing. Is the mix of tiles I am using all matte, does a space need some gleaming surface to make it balanced? The client says she likes exotic feeling fabrics and rugs, what does that mean to her, and what exact rug would set the right note? When I find the right thing for a client, I often tell them that it just clicked. But I don’t tell them that is feels like a physical thing, like a puzzle piece sliding into just the right space with a smooth snap. The right thing just feels happier and more relaxed visually, than the wrong thing. Doing design helps me be in the visual moment, to spend time just floating on the stream of beauty.
I also really want to be a kind person, and working as a designer helps me strive towards that goal. The spaces I work are not mine. They belong to the client, and at the end of the day, I walk away, and the client closes the door behind me and sits down in their home. Talking to clients helps me enter into their concerns, their preferences, their way of living and perhaps even their dreams. I have the visual vocabulary, the contacts with craftspersons, the textile knowledge, and the training in design, but the vision is theirs. Everyone has a different image in their head when they talk about their perfect home, and my hope is that by listening carefully and empathically enough, I can make that image real.
And the flat out truth is that my business runs better when I am gracious. Interior design is always a collaboration, I am not an expert in installing glass tile, in duel fuel ovens, in faux painting, in cabinet construction or in looped carpet manufacturing techniques. But I know one! And if I am gracious, and a good learner, then I get to collaborate with all of these experts, as well as with my client, to create something that is beautiful and functional.
Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do” and I am certainly going to continue spending long hours running my business. I am lucky that these hours involve some much time doing things that make me improve as a human being.