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.
As a young female designer, I am often faced with having to meet with clients (mostly male) alone. This is potentially very dangerous. I never meet with someone I have not spoken with on the phone. That’s where a free phone consultation is very helpful. I know that this is not a fail safe system. I also try to research my potential client. If he says he works for a real estate company, then I expect to be able to find him on the internet somewhere. I research addresses for proposed meetings and projects. If I am meeting in public to discuss a project Starbucks is a generally a good atmosphere with plenty of eyes and wifi and you can generally find one mutually close to both you and the client. If I need to meet at a site, I admit I try to drag a guy along with me. This sometimes works if you know a nice guy with extra free time. He can act as a chaperon and a great “ten penny nail” (assistant) if you are field measuring. If this is not practical, then the tools of the trade can be great weapons 🙂 I carry a husky flip knife and various pens in addition to keys and things just about every time I visit a site. And some self defense lessons and pepper spay can’t hurt. I’d love a taser if I could afford one. But i’m not sure how I could keep it handy. Someone should design a taser app/attachment for cell phones… but I digress. Making it obvious that you have some forms of protection might even be enough to deter a potential “bad guy” because they are looking for prey that won’t put up too much of a fight.
I started thinking about this after meeting with a slightly odd/creepy client who reassured me that he wasn’t a “bad guy” and that he hoped I wasn’t, “uncomfortable meeting him alone in a half demolished house.” The thought hadn’t crossed my mind but perhaps it should have. Although he did have real work to offer me and a check for a job I had already done for him (without having met him), I should have been more cautious. I guess I just had my eye on that carrot dangling on the end of that string.
He spent the next hour or two, half hitting on me and trying to sneak me into the pictures he was taking of the property (or maybe, hopefully, this was just in my mind), while I did my field measuring. The check he gave me was legit and didn’t bounce and he actually overpaid me (tip?) so he turned out to be an all-around decent client. Especially, now that I realized how scary it could/should have been.
I hate to be reminded that, yes, I am a woman and sometimes I should have a less brazen approach to potentially delicate situations. It is a sad reality but a necessary thing to understand and of which to be cautious.
I started working on a kitty condo for a feral litter of kittens that I am sheltering until I can get them adopted out. I got one adopted already and I decided to adopt two myself but am still looking for three loving homes for some cuddly balls of fluff and cuteness. In the meantime I thought that a place they could play in/on and scratch up would save my furniture. Turns out this is pretty true! I used some plywood, a 4′ long 4×4 post, a 4′ long 12″ diameter cardboard tube, and some Manila rope from Home Depot and some carpet I picked up at Walmart for 20 bucks as the basic building blocks for my design. Walmart was the cheapest by far of the places I looked.
I sliced the tube up with a bandsaw and with the aid of a simple jig, cut some rounds out of the plywood. Used a utility knife to cut some openings in the sides and slots for some internal steps. I wrapped one piece of the 4×4 with the rope and added some steps to it and covered the whole thing with carpet. I found some accent carpet colors at the 99 cent store. Still plan to stitch over the edges of the exterior steps with a thinner natural fiber rope, but am trying to think of the best way to accomplish it. I am almost finished assembling it and will post more pics of the process soon. <div class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 2058px"
at the beginning