Paul's father owned this 1959 Ferrari 250 GT PF from 1962 to 1964. He loved this car, washed and waxed it religiously and drove it in the driveway before he had a license. To this day he remembers every detail right down to the machine tooling on the ashtray cover, the curve of the sheet metal where it scooped under the headlights and the stitching of the upholstery that he cleaned with saddle soap. He thought of it as rolling sculpture and feels it influenced his taste and how he designs objects.
Paul Egee, interior designer, great friend and collaborator, has been working with me for more than 30 years. He gracefully navigates the choppy waters from creating interiors for houses or single baths and medical offices to products such as lights, toilets and faucets.
I thought it might be useful to ask him to share his thoughts and expertise on how to achieve a successful design project on both a large and small scale. We both hope that it might help any potential client achieve the desired outcome and maintain a positive relationship with the designer when the project is complete. As Paul says, you know you have been successful when you return years later and the space still looks good and your clients have called you for upgrades.
The designer perspective:
- It is most important that the designer and client develop a collaborative, open, honest relationship. This first step ensures that future conversations openly address design priorities, budgets and fees.
- Dates often derail projects. Knowing up front that some things are simply out of the control of the designer or client makes these hiccups more manageable.
- Paul recommends that everything regarding the project is documented on paper from contracts, to drawings (always great for reference when there is a question) to orders and confirmations. While it may seem unfriendly and unnecessarily business-like to request signatures, it diffuses any conflict that may arise.
- It takes time to meticulously create elevations for existing spaces. Please don’t rush the initial planning stages of a project. It saves time throughout the renovation or new construction.
- Demolition is messy. Though every effort is made to contain the dust and mess, the process tends to be invasive. Plan a trip or visit with a relative if this part of the project is too disruptive for your lifestyle.
- Paul thinks of himself as a translator of your dreams, lifestyle and your personal style. Often there is a discrepancy. He believes that it is his job to help you transfer your desires into a realistic vision that he will execute with your participation.
- Ask the big questions! What does comfort mean to me and my family? What shapes are appealing to me? Is this a public space and what does that mean? How do I like to live? Am I willing to take some chances? What are my priorities? Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone once in a while? And, many more questions like these.
The designer /client relationship has to be built on trust. Rest assured you will not be led astray; perhaps you will find inspiration in an unexpected direction. Finally, the designer completes the project and departs. That is the moment the house needs to assume the personality of the owner.
Paul always talks about appropriateness and balance. Everything needs to be right and one piece should never stand out. It is the complete environment that helps define your lifestyle. If the scale, the color and the lighting are right, the room will come together because these three defining elements transcend style.