Interior Design: The Mystery, the Myth and the Metamorphosis

You must be the change you want to see in the world.            –Mahatma Gandhi

I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but I wanted to share an open letter to Janet who wrote the following in response to my post on March 8th “Breaking News“:

“Does a blog make you a good designer or guru? I don’t think so…  How does this change interior design?”

Janet, thanks so much for your thought-provoking questions.

I do not think that having a blog makes me a good designer or a guru.  Having several years of interior design education (and the resultant certification on the wall), as well as many years of experience in the interior design industry makes me a good interior designer.  Listening to clients and helping them design their homes to be a reflection of who they are and how they live, that makes me a good interior designer.  But writing a blog, not so much.

Fact is I did not call myself an interior design guru.  The fine folks at builddirect.com did.   Guru is such a strange-sounding word, is it not?  Just after it came out, I tweeted with several others on builddirect.com’s list and we all shared one common thought – we all felt a little funny about being called interior design gurus.  Here’s why.  We just love talking about interior design, sharing what we know and helping other people.  Follow any of us on Twitter and you won’t find a more down to earth, real and passionate group.  It’s my privilege to know them.

A blog is just another vehicle to share that love of interior design with other people.  I was an English major in college and I love to write.  So why not write about what I see?  And if I didn’t write, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet someone like you who asks me the difficult questions.  You have made me think.  Isn’t that great?

Here’s Rob’s reason for listing me as one of builddirect.com’s interior designers.  I think he says it all far better than I.

“Catherine!  Thanks so much for the link to/re-printing my article.  Thanks for your work, not only as a designer, but as a proponent of social media, too.  It’s one of the reasons you made our list.

I hope this is the start of a cooperative relationship on Twitter and here on our blogs, too.  The more voices we have singing from the same hymn book the better.  This is the kind of cooperative effort in promoting the Good Guys so as to make online experiences so much better for peers, and for customers/clients, too.

Thanks again!
Rob
BuildDirect”

In answer to your second question, I think that social media is changing the way we communicate about interior design.

First we had the mystery – what do interior designers do anyway?  Oooooh…no one will say.  And how do they charge for their services?  Or I could never afford a fancy interior designer, could you?

Then we had the myth – but they can do a room on HGTV for $100 in one day!  Hey, interior designer, why can’t you do that for me?  You have got to be kidding me.  Talk about a way to confuse our interior design clients.  And thus we have had to enter the education process.  The real one – myths and mystery debunked.  What better way to explain it all than through social media?

So here it is – the metamorphosis of interior design.  Who are we?  What do we do?  Bring on transparent pricing.  Let’s face it.  Today’s consumer is savvy.  Think they don’t know how to go online and find out what that Louis XVI chair really costs?  Think again.

So why not help consumers through all of the myth and the mystery?  Why not use social media as a tool to help people understand the real value interior designers provide?  I have never forgotten Charlotte Moss’ comment about people’s assumption that interior designers just run around all day in their Manolo Blahniks.  It’s just not true.  Thank you Charlotte for a good, though a bit painful, laugh early on in my interior design career…

We’re all just trying to make interior design a little more understandable and a lot more accessible.  Why not be the change we want to see in the world?  Think about it.

I love to hear from you.  What do you dream of changing in the world?  Where would you start?  Maybe, you already have…and how great is that!  Let me know.

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11 Responses to “Interior Design: The Mystery, the Myth and the Metamorphosis”

  1. Lynda Quintero-Davids Says:

    Saw your tweet so here come my response:
    Funny. I can remember being in class the day they discussed the diff between a “decorator” and a “designer”. A designer has the education and that gives them the right to call themselves a designer. Well I didn’t finish my design classes, all because of work: and now I’m unemployed from that work (after 16yrs). After 4 yrs of school, just b/c I don’t have a piece of paper, supposedly I cannot call myself a designer, even though I have the experience budgeting, space-planning, executing plans, assembling color pallets, working with contractors & construction projects. So I call myself the next best thing: A Stylist and showcase my passion for design on my blog I started in November.

    I believe Guru is just the word of the year (like fat-free was a few years back). People are struggling to reinvent themselves. Some are so desperate, they lie, and further fill the unemployed job pool. What is it I want to do in this world? I want to help people find their style, clear their clutter, and create beautiful dwellings to ‘live’ in. But since my job experience titles are all in the retail industry, I’m in need of a mentor to start my OWN business… and maybe become the next design guru. I’d like my next step to be to create a website to link to my blog, now that I feel I have established “online presence”.

    GREAT POST! THX for sharing!!
    😀 Lynda
    nyclq-focalpoint.blogspot.com

    • averydesigninteriors Says:

      Hi Lynda! Thanks for being a great Twitter friend, visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts.
      Your comments about the difference between being a decorator and a designer ring so true for me. I have often thought of writing a post in my Wednesday Word explaining the difference. But every time I write I struggle with the hot debate going on now in so many states about who is an interior designer and who is not. I think the rules of NCIDQ (the interior design licensing exam-for my non-design readers) are far too stringent. And I struggle with how to not tick off the many designers who I think are terrific even though they don’t have the sheepskin on the wall. In so many ways, experience is the best teacher. I have worked for another interior designer before going out on my own for just that reason.
      For the record, I do have my Interior Design Professional Certification, but I am not yet licensed. NCIDQ requires thousands of hours of work experience in addition to my education and then of course, the exam.
      I love that you are so focused on what you want to do in this world. And I have no doubt that once you find the right mentor, you will have your success. I say create your own unique title and keep plugging along. You are doing all the right things!
      Best of success to you Lynda! Catherine

  2. Rob J Says:

    Wow, what a great post!

    And I’m not just saying that because I’m quoted! 🙂

    Transparent communication is very important, because I think you’re right – today’s consumer is savvy. And besides that, being transparent is about building trust and establishing one’s own confidence in what one is doing/selling. Even without the savvy of the consumer, this is just good business practice, no matter what type of business you’re in.

    Here is is, Catherine: I’m glad to have met you on Twitter, and glad to have included you in our list, even more so now because of this post.

    Cheers!
    Rob
    BuildDirect

    • averydesigninteriors Says:

      Hi Rob, Thanks for checking out my post and it’s my pleasure to quote you!
      I spent over 10 years in Wall Street prior to my interior design career. In the days when I worked in lower Manhattan, a hand shake sealed a deal. I got out not long after I was handed my first employment contract and asked to sign. Fact is trust is just that important to me.
      So glad to have met you on Twitter too. Let’s dream up some more great ways we can build relationships (and trust) in social media.
      Here’s to moving toward success together!
      Catherine

  3. Rob Says:

    RE: the word ‘Guru’. I suppose that term is becoming a bit hackneyed by now. And perhaps too, it has implications that the person christened with that title is unreachable, or on a level that mere mortals will never reach. When applied to social media, this seems to be contradictory.

    But, when I used it for my lists, I was thinking more about some of the other implications of that word; knowledge, and trust,and even (dare I say it) love, both for the subject and also in a way, for those who are seeking new information to expand their points of view. For me, the word guru in this context is very useful when it comes to social media.

    When the word is drained of meaning, I think the principles behind the intent will remain. In that, it’s an exciting time to be using social media platforms to develop dialogue, and trust.

    Cheers!

    • averydesigninteriors Says:

      Hi Rob,
      Love that you came back to my blog to explain your use of the word guru. In your context, I believe that it is accurate.
      Thank you again for listing me as one of your top 12 interior design gurus on Twitter.
      Looking forward to many more opportunities to explore the world of social media with you.
      Catherine

      • Rob J Says:

        Likewise, Catherine.

        It’s an exciting time to be trying to make connections, both in terms of parallel industries, and in terms of similar approaches to those connections.

        Cheers again for the mention here in your post!

  4. Shay Geyer Says:

    Bravo! Very well said. I think it’s important for us to always be transparent & up front & honest with our clients. LOVE the section about the myths! So true! What you don’t get to see on TV is the crew of 100 people that are behind the scenes helping make the so called $100 or even $1000 room come to life. Not to mention the freebies from sponsors. It’s so very mis-leading!

    I think social media is also a wonderful to express our creativity & show our clients what we’re capable of. You can show step by step processes & showcase even the smallest project like the before & after of re-covering a chair in a fabulous new fabric or updating a finish.

    • averydesigninteriors Says:

      Dear Shay, Thanks so much for checking out my blog and I love your comments!
      Transparency is so key all the time, but especially in our new economy.
      I remember getting hooked into interior design because I watched so much HGTV. Great shows, but now that I am in the business I never watch any more for the exact reason you gave – too misleading.
      I am a late convert to social media and love the freedom it gives to talk in an open forum about interior design.
      Thanks again for your great comments!

  5. Marilyn Russell Says:

    Hello Catherine, thanks for the follow on Twitter. This is a great post. Obviously, this person must think you’re a “guru” or else wouldn’t be bothered by the term so much. My blunt response to her would be “and?” but in a nice way. There are two reasons why people have blogs: to make money or to share/talk about what they love. In my humble opinion, if someone considers you an expert aka “guru” on the subject at hand, then kudos to you on your accomplishments.

    Interior Design school has allowed me to see that HGTV promotes a false perception of the interior design industry. No full scope design is completed w/in a 1/2 hour or hour. HGTV makes it look so easy. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch HGTV (although less now) because I love to see people’s talents. I think social media is exactly the tool designers and decorators need to fight misconceptions about interior design and the process involved.

    Marilyn

    • averydesigninteriors Says:

      Hi Marilyn,
      So glad we have connected on Twitter and now here at my blog. Thank you so much for your great comments. I still can’t quite believe the buzz that happened around this blog post. I am not out to make money, well not from my blog at least and I deliberately avoid any advertisements on it.
      I am in the share/talk about what I love category! I have more fun with social media and spend far too much time at it – just ask my poor neglected husband. LOL!
      Your comments about Interior Design School and HGTV are spot on. I had a similar experience in school. I do love watching some shows, but I am so disappointed by the misconceptions. It makes our job just a little bit tougher.
      Wishing you all success! Catherine


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