Myth of Multitasking

Is multitasking good? Well, look at what the researchers had found, people practicing multitasking are more likely to make mistakes and always have below average job performance. Working at the firms that always require you handle multiple things at the same time which means the firms might have problematic projet management, or the firms either have the superiors or clients who are extremely spontaneous and do not like to follow the set schedules. With crisis creators around, expecting very stressful work atmosphere. 

Multitasking may sound like a positive word to describe a work environment or a capable worker. Unfortunately, human brains were created to focus on one thing at a time. If you really think people truly can multitask well, the governments around the world should just legalize drive while texting.

High-end Commercial?! Yeah Right!

When I saw or heard the word high-end commercial, retail or hospitality design, I always laughed inside. I was fortunate to have the opportunities to design all these spaces mentioned above, and based on my own experiences, I have only seen really high-end residential projects, but for the commercial, retail or hospitality projects I worked on, they were called high-end, but actually they weren’t.

I had the chance to design a client’s own residence and his jewelry shop, the client demanded the quality of the designs for these 2 projects must be “high-end”. So, I proposed a super luxurious wall sconce for his 12K s.f. residence which cost 8 grand a pop, I proposed 8 but the client loved it and said I want 10. Meanwhile, I selected a nice wall sconce for his jewelry shop, with the retail project in mind, I picked an $650 sconce, and proposed 8, the client loved it but asked me to find something looks similar but less expensive, and I did, the new selection cost $500, he again said “I loved it! but is it possible to look for a similar one with lower price?” I replied “with the look and quality, the price is the best and it meets the budget, and I don’t think I can find anything else with this design but less expensive.” So, the client said “then find someone to knock it off.” I am the designer who hates people copy other people’s designs, so I lied to him saying I couldn’t have the sconce knocked off in cheaper price, so I had to find another one. The final selection was $450 a pop, less expensive, visible medium-low level craftsmanship, but it looked very similar to the very first $650 one, and the client was very happy and said “Good job! It is $400 saving right there!”

I totally understand where he was coming from, because if that project was a 300-room hotel, $5 less expensive stuff per room will generate $1500 savings, this kind of mentality for commercial, hospitality and retail projects makes a lot of sense, and it is smart and no-brainer, but if you call it “high-end”? I totally disagree. Well, maybe the look, definitely not the quality or craftsmanship.

 

Working at the firms don’t charge clients hourly

The clients pay flat fee tend to make more design changes and ask for more intense shop-arounds. Don’t blame them, cuz it’s free!!

Changing approved designs, especially during Contract Document phase can be really counter productive which also means the disasters waiting to happen. Changing approved designs for accommodating job site condition is understandable, but changing designs just for change’s sake can be very annoying and time consuming. Charging hourly serves as a mechanism to discourage the indecisive clients making constant design changes. Without this mechanism, the designers will always work on repeat tasks which can lead to overtime working easily. For those clients who like you to compare prices with 10 different vendors just for one single piece of furniture, charging hourly rate can also remind them not to try to save a dime but end up spend a dollar.

At last, charging hourly rates will force you monitoring yours and your employees’ time better and making sure the time is efficiently spent. Thus, good for your own wellbeing and time management skill.

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.

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.