04 February, 2009

"Surprise is . . . "


So today was the first day of 2009 Winter Market at the SF Design Center, and the highlight of my day was the chance to meet (and hear) Michael S. Smith. The lecture took place in the textile showroom where his wonderful fabrics are sold. Because of some A/V issues, it got off to a kinda slow start, but once we could hear him, damn, it was amazing.

I'll open this post with the same information that opened the lecture, "If you're here to get the dirt on decorating the White House, you'll need to wait another 10 years. Seriously. Don't even ask." lol.

With that caveat out of the way, Mr. Smith launched into a 70 minutes talk about his inspirations, his challenges, and his insights on client relationships.

Once we were knee deep in the "inspiration" pool, there seemed to be a theme of conflicting inspirations; "16th Century - Loft" or "Shogun - Modern Kitchen." It made me examine my own thought process. It was reassuring to hear someone clearly as talented as Smith talk about the collaborative (designer/client) aspects of residential design. Once we'd reviewed his portfolio (in slide-show format, with great insights behind the images), we got into a lively Q&A session revolving around any number of issues, but seemed to settle on the area of client relations.

Asked "What is your greatest advice for a designer to keep clients happy?" he answered, without hesitation, "Surprise is the enemy." Wow.

Gonna have to needlepoint that on a pillow,


columnist said...

So true. "Surprise" meaning an "unwelcome" surprise. I think the key is managing expectations. All the time!

ArchitectDesign said...

How great to hear him speak!! I've never been to a lecture WITHOUT A/V issues though....seriously....sometimes I think we'd be better off w/o technology!

tartanscot said...

after some follow-up questions, he even meant keep the 'good surprise' down to a minimum. As much as we all see those dramatic, sobbing "reveal" moments on the horrid design shows, people want to feel safe and secure in their homes. "surprise" works against that emotion.

I've always liked that expression you used - "managing expectation"

katiedid said...

Sigh....wish I were there! But I am very busy keeping some client surprises to a minimum...and getting those pesky end of the month client invoices off my desk and into the mail.

But I do love Michael! I have seen him speak twice in SF. Drat! I would have loved to get him to sign my copy of his latest book.

P.S. Thank you so much for your visit to my blog!

vicki archer said...

Great line and insight for any situation. Sounds like a great day listening to Michael Smith - very inspiring I imagine. xv

GrannySmithGreen said...

I'm envious! So glad you had a good time! Smith's style is quite tasteful, traditional with a punch of something sleek.

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