finding a balance

I've been kind of a snoop these last two weeks. I’m in the process of surveying my friends for do's and don't's on classes I’m building, most likely offered on-line. I've gotten over feeling intrusive. At first it felt so odd to ask people about their design habits or desires or frustrations. I’ve never minded asking people how they live, especially if I am designing for them, yet asking about design habits is different. It seemed more personal….which I suppose it is.

How can I design a class without knowing what people want to learn? So I ask. From the answers, I've determined there is generally a lack of interest in finding the balance between the function and the esthetic nature of a space. It's the sort of thing I think about every day. In the branch I bring in from outside, or the color of a square on the wall. Hmmmm, maybe because I'm a designer and a kid at play? Yep. Duhhh.. Yet I believe everyone is a designer. I contemplate the inclusiveness and the difference between taking an account of how we work or live and making artistic choices in changing a space. 

Steven Covey in his book: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, taught me: "Seek to understand before being understood". Those simple words changed my career at a crucial time and helped me remember to listen first. Really listen. How does my client feel? What drives him or her or brings happiness to their lives? When I have these questions answered, then I can design. Before, I might as well be threading a needle in the wind. Only through the eyes of my client, can I view the world I am entering, if I am to design for them. I become an actor of their life and sometimes I am two or more actors if there is a family living in a space. Or I become the public impressions of a business. The constraints of the space, the existing furnishings, the way entertainment time is spent or meals are eaten or if there's a need for a work station among children playing with toys. This is all evidence. From this investigation, bones are built. The first steps are the functional bones. After the bones, then artistic decisions are garnished from 'who is the client?', if I've been privileged enough to find out. What inherent and driven styles emerge? Is the client aware or not of their style? My mission then, is to learn how the functions of the place play a part and then, who are the people? What is their natural style? From years of experience, ever person has a style. Very unique. Very their own.

How might I teach this balance of function and esthetic, is my first hurdle. 

I ponder two questions for a person wanting to design on their own, or work with a designer.

Have you listed all the functions of the space you are living in, or working in? Do you know your own style and use that knowledge, when you consider the task at hand? 

It seems natural to me that before looking at what the market suggests, explore history and the present the life you are living. Look for the signs of what makes up your very unique individual life.

I am always changing my style, adding things for a while and then moving them out. Yet certain pieces usually stay with me. I have a little gypsy-hippie from my Mill Valley days so I like slouchy and informal. Pillows and low light. I also a have a bit of South Pacific Mid-Century Modern Miami, from living in South Florida for twenty years. There are usually orchids growing in my bathroom and old bark cloth remnant in my furnishings. I like woods more than metals so I suppose a bit of wood elf is in me too. Rich color and grain I prefer. I set one of my bonsai trees on a pedestal and imagine I'll create more of a Zen like space someday although I have some already with a wooden Buddha and blank walls. I am past, present and future...and the future shows itself in what temps me from the outside world right now. What is new that appeals to me? How could it be part of my present?  

I believe if you find your style, you are ready to begin an interior.