Discovery Day
November 04, 2014

Recently we had an exceptionally good day. We had our first design presentation with a client for whom we're designing an uptown apartment with a distinctly fun (but mature) downtown vibe and the meeting went really well. Like all clients, they were a tad nervous about what they'd see, but after a couple pages, the sense of relief was apparent as they saw page after page of things that really intrigued them both individually and as a couple. By the time we were done, the clients actually said "isn't this fun, isn't this great!" and they did what we always want- they smiled big, happy smiles. What's nice is that this reaction has become the norm for us and after thinking about it, it's all due to one 3-hour appointment that is probably the most insightful exercise we can do with each new project.

"Discovery Day" is now a mandatory event; we ask clients to clear their calendar for a 2-3 hour walk-through of showrooms to look at furniture, lighting and accessories. If the client is a couple, both need to be present. If the client is single, no friends are allowed unless they can approve payment of a purchase. No in-laws, no parents, no friends that have a "good eye", not even the kids are allowed unless they're adult and are part of the decision making team. Essentially, I am only interested in designing your home for you.

As it turns out, clients love this meeting, it's meant to free them of preconceived notions and the baggage of past homes. There's no need to chat about budgets, feasibility, or even practicality, all we ask is they identify the loves and the hates, and we quickly see where there is consensus and disagreement. While walking through showrooms representing all sorts of aesthetics from contemporary to traditional, we note the things clients like and we point out details that I notice they are NOT seeing. We force attention to things clients hadn't considered before (divine, bright-red, resin console table? perfectly-proportioned modern wing chair?), ask them to develop an opinion and this simple exercise will often open minds to many new possibilities. It's easy for anyone to see what clients are attracted to over and over…I'm more interested in all the things they walk by, and then I stop them to point out those things to figure out why.

The best part is that this day is fun and amazingly productive. We ask about thoughts on all sorts of materials and finishes. We have clients sit, sit and sit some more, and while getting comfy we talk about seat depth, cushion fill, tight back or loose-back cushions, wood, upholstered or metal arms…or maybe none at all. Does a coffee table need to be a table? Let's find out. Clients have time to look, challenge their tendencies, discover new styles, identify preferences they never knew they had and note how that compares with the opinions of their significant other. When was the last time you had a few hours together to just chat about what your current ideas of home are and how to best project that through design?

Throughout this session, we're listening, recording and challenging to figure out where along the style spectrum is the sweet-spot for you, the client. We follow up with a "how do you live" conversation and run through a whole weekday, weekend day and holiday to understand all the functions the house needs to support. Then we get to work and deep-dive into furnishings and start weaving a narrative through our selections. By the time we have finished, we're ready to exceed expectations and introduce selections that bring that smile- a big, broad, oh-my-heaven-that's-really-going-to-be-our-home smile.