I met this client though craigslist, who asked me to do some designs and visualizations of his backyard with a pool. At our consultation, he also mentioned that he recently signed a contract on an office down on Wilshire. He was leasing the whole 4th floor of the building and was interested in my help space planning for his multifaceted company. He did not feel like he was getting the personal attention he wanted from the building’s Architect.
So I ended up doing a few options/renderings for him and some furniture layouts. Before long he had to put me in touch with the furniture installer to help locate the floor outlets for the furniture. Now, I have been careful to explain to my client that I am not a licensed architect and that any plans I generate were not for the purpose of construction and they were just for consulting purposes. However, when my client asked the furniture installer to contact the electrical engineer, and the electrical engineer did not have any plans reflecting the arrangement the installer was referencing, the electrical engineer called the architect for a copy. The architect said he did not authorize any documents to be distributed. And was incensed at the thought that we would be working behind his back. It was never my intention to step on his toes. My only goal was to help my client figure out what he wanted and what was possible so that he could then have a better idea of what to tell the Architect. So the Architect sends out this email to everyone explaining the hierarchy of command and demands everyone e-sign and reply. I have no problem with this and respond to his request in a timely manner. But apparently I was the only one to respond. So the Architect decided to drop the project. Now, I find that my client is confident that I can easily replace this Architect anyway. Internally, I hear the screeching of brakes. “Whoa, wait a minute!” I panic for a minute. I’ve never done this on my own before. I then reassure myself that I have a degree and experience and I can do this.
We had a meeting and everyone (minus the architect) was there. And everyone had an assistant but me. I felt nervous but kept it under the surface. The meeting went rather smoothly despite me not having even sat in on one before. At one point, I felt myself being underestimated and that was not how I wanted things to go. After all this was my chance to prove myself! I stunned them with some knowledge of recent developments in fireproofing techniques and soon gained the confidence and respect of all parties involved. I was floored! Now, it is not my intention to gloat. I am really just thrilled to have keep it all together and not run screaming from the room. Although, I will admit that when I got my first check on this job, I did scream a little once I was alone in my car.
At this point, we have negotiated with the contractor, the owner, the hvac guy, and the client enough that the end result will be something that will please all parties and it is currently under construction and hopefully approaching completion this month.
So I have learned a very important lesson about what to avoid in the future and how to retain the proper hierarchy. I learned that I have the skill to handle my own in a large meeting, too. The other important lesson I’ve been able to glean from all this is, I either better learn more about interior design or refine my ability to read my client’s true wishes regardless of what he tells me he wants. Because there are times when all he is looking for is reassurance of what he already knows, and times the architect has to trust his/her instinct and explain/convince the client why he will love it in the end. And we need to be able to distinguish which time it is presently.