Details Matter

When East Meets West

When East meets West

Every time I visited commercial spaces, I always spotted the details similar to this baseboard showing in the photo. It hurts me as a design professional to see such a careless way of handling the detail, and I am stunned to learn the design firms doing stuff like this could get the job.

Is the North Korea Crisis another can?

Throughout the history, the foreign policies of the US have not been very successful. During the World War II, the US refused to fight against Nazi and Japan at the beginning simply because the politicians were worried about mass casualties, so they decided to wait, and then one day, the US was under attack by Japan, the US had to react and joined the fight which caused even more US casualties. When you are afraid of people dying and decide to wait, there will be more people dead.

When the Chinese Nationalist Party’s leader Chiang Kai-Shek almost wiped out Chinese Communists, American government chose to intervene and stopped Chiang from doing that. When USSR was collapsing and at its weakest stage, America didn’t take it out. When N. Korea didn’t have any nuclear weapon, America decided not to act, all because America was scared of people dying. Look at these 3 countries now, if the US will fight against any of these 3 now, the casualties will be huge compared to 20 or 30 years ago. So, if the US does not take care of N. Korea while it only has 4 nuclear war heads now, when will that be?! after N. Korea can produce 40 nuclear war heads? Stop kicking the can down the road! Just go ahead and do it now!! Even adult buffalos in the wild know to kill lion cubs before they grow old. C’mon!

Asking an American Designer to Copy American Designs

When I was working in Shanghai few years ago, I was constantly asked by both the clients and employers to copy other people’s designs from the interior design magazines from the US, and the funniest part was one of the employers asked me to copy a project which was designed by me and published in the magazine few years back in the US. Stop asking me to copy American designers’ designs because I am an American designer! I had my interior design college education in the US. I also had all of my interior design work experiences in the US. Nationality wise, I am also an American. Do I need to dye my hair blonde or wear blue contact lenses in order to convince you that?! Show me some respect, You Asians!!

Darwinism in Design Related Businesses

I always thought the housing bubble burst started in 2008 would wipe out the companies that had bad reputation. However, what I saw was that many good companies were gone but bad ones still remain. I was very puzzled by this phenomenon, but now I understand why.

There was a millwork shop I used to work with, its owner was extremely artistic and skilled, but the reality is that the creative and artistic people usually are not very business savvy, their artist mindset just can’t compete with their competitors who are more business oriented but less creative or skilled. So, the skilled and creative craftsmen are all out of business but the un-skilled, non-creative businessmen with inferior craftsmanship and quality of work all survived. This kind of Darwinism doesn’t seem justified.

DIY Mistery for Interior Renovation

For cutting costs, some of the clients told me they could supervise the construction site by themselves without me being involved, I found it very amusing and thought the home remodeling TV shows and the big building material supply stores really poisoned the consumers with DIY very well.

Many consumers don’t know how to read technical drawings such as schedules, elevations, sections, and details, without the knowledge of understanding technical drawings, how possibly they can know what the builders are doing on site? Those fancy 3D perspective color renderings look nice but really don’t tell you that much. Even for those technical savvy consumers who know how to read the technical drawings, one thing they will never know is that when they see the workers were installing base boards or door casings, if it was the accurate timing for such tasks?

Some builders and contractors don’t prioritize the tasks correctly due to lack of understanding the design details, so they might look like they have been working hard at the job site, but the tasks they performed might not be proper for that particular timing, and no any drawing will tell you that.

For example, I once designed a double swing door using floor and ceiling recessed mount pivot hinges for a project, and the door stop for that door was another piece of millwork right next to it. The contractor wanted to show the client some progress, so he quickly asked the millwork shop to install the millwork that also served as the door stop and also asked the painters to paint the walls and base boards around the millwork without installing the door panels first. The client went to the job site and saw the workers were working very hard so he felt happy since he saw “the progress”, then he returned to the job site a week later and saw all those installed millwork and base boards had been taken down. It turned out the contractor had to ask the millwork shop to take everything down because he needed to have the slab fabricator cut the floor slabs for installing the swing door’s pivot hinge on the floor. The painted ceiling also needed to be broken in order to install the other pivot hinge on the ceiling, and the walls near the millwork had to be re-painted because the walls were damaged when millwork people tried to take down the millwork, and because the wall finish was eggshell which could not be touched-up partially, the entire walls in that area needed to be re-painted. The worst part was the walls were spread painted, so the painters had to spend the entire day just to tape up the plastic wraps to protect other installed millwork in the same area before they did the spread paint. One step forward, ten steps backwards. This is the best example not to DIY the job site supervision.

Let GOP Healthcare Bill Pass without Delay

After I learned GOP’s new healthcare bill will hurt the voters who voted Trump the most which I’m not sure if it true, I felt this bill should be passed no matter what. People must be put responsible for their actions and accept the consequences, so no matter if this bill will help or hurt Trump voters, it should be passed. It should also be taken as a good example for democracy since it is always good to see candidates actually do what they have promised to do after they got elected. Trump has been talking about repealing Obamacare during the campaign, he never said otherwise, and last, people must remember, Trump got into the White House through a democratic election, not through a military coup.

How to use 3D computer rendering programs efficiently?

Technology brings us convenience but also impair some of our capabilities. Many designers in my generation did not have elaborated 3D programs while in college or in the early stage of our careers, so we didn’t have the luxury to see what would be built until the projects were completed, so many of us had developed the ability to imagine things we designed in 3D before they were actually built, we could and still can even sketch these ideas in 3D by hand very quickly.

Younger generations of designers seem like losing these abilities since they have started to learn very advanced 3D programs in colleges. They need to depend on 3D programs in order to visualize things in 3D. Even though 3D programs can create nice realistic color renderings for presentations, for initial schematic design, it is just not cost-effective if you consider the time spent to build the 3D models.

I have found doing a quick hand sketch to convey design ideas within office among design team members and employers is extremely effective, but if you have co-workers or employers who must see super realistic 3D images in order to understand your design intent which can be very frustrating.

I am not against 3D computer rendering programs at all, but I am not a big fan of using it during the schematic design phase and before the floor layout is approved by the client. I also oppose to using 3D programs to generate 3D renderings just for in-office design communications since they are all time consuming (money burning) practices. When I hire interior designers for my company, ideal candidates will not need to know how to do any 3D program since they were not graphic design majored in college, but they must know how to quickly draw free-hand sketches to communicate their design ideas among design team members within the office, and then can use AutoCAD program to verify the feasibility of their sketched ideas in scale. As long as long as these rules are followed, 3D rendering programs can definitely be very productive and sufficient design aid tools.

 

Fast paced = Productive?

I believe everyone had experiences working with people who were fast paced workers. Typically these people are very career and goal oriented, they want to get one stuff done and out of their ways quickly so that they can move onto the next. They are always seen as productive workers, but I personally found people like this normally take actions before they think things through. So, the decisions they made usually were problematic, and often needed other people to spend extra time to reverse or fix. Unfortunately, people like this are always praised as productive,  proactive and quick thinkers, and always got the promotion at work to be the decision makers, and I don’t think it will do anything good for any company or organization. So, if you ever hear someone was praised as quick thinker or some companies have fast paced work environment, you might not want to take it too positively.

Taking Advantage of Homelessness

Just read an article about what interior designers can do to help homeless people. Oh! Dear! Here we go again. I just read about a fashion designer designed clothes for homeless people to keep them warm, and a hair stylist helped cutting homeless people’s hairs, the fashion designer and hair stylist instantly became internet sensations, and both their popularities and businesses boomed as the result. What a good business strategy! But please stop using homeless people to be your free commercial actors or guinea pigs. Interior Designers!! If you really want to help homeless people, give them jobs as design interns at your firms, how’s that? No related education or credential? Well, you tell me how many interior designers out there were majored in interior design in colleges, and how many of them passed NCIDQ exam or are licensed and State registered?! Believe me, offering them jobs at your firms will be more helpful than design their “high-end” homeless shelters. Stop giving starving African children expensive toys!! It’s the same theory. They need food!