'Designer is like a mind reader'

By Meng Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-06 11:38
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'Designer is like a mind reader'

Meng Ye's idea of an individualistic bedroom.

While many professionals look for emerging trends that will help define the new year, top interior designers say the overriding pattern will remain the same in 2010 - how to meet client needs and help them express themselves in their own homes.

As a star designer at DYRS& Ideal idea, one of the leading home design and dcor companies in China, Meng Ye agrees that if there is a trend it continues to be helping clients meet their individual needs.

"An interior designer is like a mind reader," said the 38-year-old who has 16 years of experience in interior design. "You need to know your clients so that you can make something to suit their tastes and to represent who they are."

Massimo Roj, CEO of Progetto CMR Architecture, the biggest architecture company in Italy, which only expanded to Beijing in 2004, holds the same belief.

"Unlike public buildings, interior design is something personal. You need to catch and understand your clients' needs and make their dreams come true," Roj said.

He says one of the biggest mistakes an interior designer can make is to show off and attempt to impose their own tastes rather than putting the client's needs first.

But that might not be as easy as it sounds. When Roj designed a house for a football player in Italy, his client only told him: "We have four people in our family. Two kids, my wife and me."

Roj then learned the wife has 400 pairs of shoes, so he designed a room specially for her shoes so that she can pick whichever she would like to wear. "The wife loved that room," he said proudly.

Yet clients often express only their objective requirements.

How to make the overall style suit their demands requires creativity. It is the most difficult part of interior design - the artist's touch.

"If you are clear about what they really like, we can finish your design in a month. If you are not, it will take a long time," Roj said.

Meng's approach to understanding his clients is observation. "I note the car they drive, the watch they wear or the clothes they pick," he said.

"If they drive cool cars and wear brand-name clothes, then I know I need to give them something fashionable. Some don't spend a family fortune on cars or clothes, so I know I need to come up with something low-key and stylish," Meng said.

Roj understands his clients through conversation.

He admits this is very difficult when 95 percent of his clients are Chinese who are guarded about their personal lives.

"You need to come into people's lives. At the beginning, they may ask 'Why? Why do you want to know?' But they will understand gradually," he said.

But he knows designing for a Chinese family is not as simple as making good conversation. There are a range of cultural differences from the West that he needs to overcome and different aspects he needs to consider.

"There are a lot of things like the master bedroom must face south. It takes time to understand that and I can hardly say I've learned them all," he said.

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