Design Mindset Change

We’ve heard all the complaints about mask wearing, working from home, quarantined life, isolation bla bla bla, ask any introverts around you if they’re complaining?! As a designer and an employer, we must understand and be aware of the voices coming from those quiet ones. Open floor plans, communal seating, collaboration…shut up already. Hope this pandemic can wake up some designers out there.

Interesting Stuff in Interior Design Field in Asia

Most international students who went to the US to study wish they could stay in the US to live and work after they graduated, but only few of them would ever achieve their goals.

A lot of companies in the US rather hiring American citizens than foreign students because they are not willing to sponsor the H1B work visas unless the foreign workers’ qualifications or capabilities are significantly superior to their American counterparts. Therefore, many those foreign students had to go back to their native countries after graduated and never could make their American dream come true. I was one of the few fortunate ones who stayed and worked in the US for nearly 20 years because of my outstanding performance and talent to my profession. Not only I was hired by American companies many times as a foreign worker but stayed employed throughout the 2 major recessions after the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001 and the housing bubble burst in 2008 while many co-workers of mine who were laid off were American citizens. My superb creativity and work ethic kept me on top of the game and made me an important asset to my previous companies.

However, since I decided to go to Asia to work 2 years ago, tables have started to turn. Every job I worked at in Asia, I had to report to the people who used to study in the US but failed to stay and work in the US. Those people who failed to compete with me in the US job market all became my superiors with higher pay in Asia. If you don’t think it is interesting, then what is?!

Working in the US as an interior designer

People always think living and working in the US after graduating from college is normal, nothing special about it, but people should understand why the employers in the US were willing to hire a foreigner who needed a work visa but not an US citizen? Well, it’s simple, I was better than other interior designers who were US citizens.

Sales, Sales, and Sales

Throughout my design career, I have met many people from different companies, Audio/Visual companies, lighting design firms, general contractors, or kitchen companies, during the initial contact, I always met the people who sounded very knowledgeable, they always presented themselves with great knowledge and also very persuasive. Their sales and marketing skills were excellent and always made the impression that they are trustworthy and professional.

However, after working with some of the companies for a while, I started to realize some issues occurred such as the things were not coordinated or followed up properly, and when the clients and I questioned about the issues, they always showed the great skill to calm you down and ensure everything will be fine with sweet, smooth, and very diplomatic talks, and when the clients and I finally realized the issues were more serious and complained to the owners of the businesses, then all over the sudden, those talkative people just disappeared, instead, the real knowledgeable people started to show up at the job site to solve the issues, and when I asked them why we had never been told about all these problems earlier by those sweet talkers from their companies? they basically said “Oh! He/She was just a sales, so he/she would not have known all these!” What?! a sales? I was very serious here about the issues, and the whole time I had been talking to a sales?!

I had to admit I got fooled few times like that, the people from certain companies I had dealt with were actually sales, but they talked so smoothly, I mistakenly thought they were the actual engineers or technical people, but the funny thing was, those real technical people and engineers usually were the people with few words.

Lesson learned: those who talk the most usually the ones know the least. When I hire anyone from now on, not only I want to know the company owner or the front man but the people who will actually do the work. Sometimes when some businesses are well-known, it is not because they are really good at what they do but because they are good at marketing. We must overcome this blind spot when hiring any professional.

Fast design? You just might get what you ask for.

In this fast paced world, everything has to be fast, fast food, instant noodles, speed dating, everything has to be done not today but yesterday, interior design is not an exception.

It’s nothing new for commercial projects being fast paced, tight deadlines due to tight budget control, the result? poor craftsmanship and poor handling of construction details in both aesthetically and functionally. Why am I not surprised to see this kind of fast paced design practice happened to the high-end residential projects?

Many design firms are trying to come up with a way to digest those high-end residential projects in very short period of time in order to maximize the profits, one way they come up with is to standardize designs by giving all of the clients several pre-designed packages to choose from, package a, b, c, and d. These packages can be different in prices or design styles. The clients pick the one they like and the firm starts to build, because everything is pre-designed with certain styles, colors, and furniture and accessory selections, the design process and construction time frame can be shortened dramatically, of course, the cost also can be lowered. You might think the money saved will go back to the clients, but because it is still called high-end residential project, the design fees remain the same, the extra savings go right back into designer’s pocket.

Which design company will not happy to charge like high-end residential projects but design like commercial grade quality?! It is not the design professionals’ fault but the clients’ responsibility. Next time, if you want your 10,000 sq.ft house to be done in 6 months? you might get what you ask for – a pre-designed package, and you might never find out about it until one day you visit your relative’s or friend’s house and find the interior design in his or her house is almost identical to the one in your home.