I’ve loved watching the first season of Million Dollar Decorators. For me it is fascinating to see Mary, Martyn, Kathryn, and Nate work with their clients and see how unique each client/decorator relationship is -- they run the gamut from impossible to deal with to totally deferent. Mary has a take charge attitude and knows how to get what she wants. The results speak for themselves -- Mary’s work is sensational and distinctly Mary. Martyn’s clients act as if Rudolph Valentino has entered the room when he shows up, and they let him do exactly as he pleases. His great skill is giving his clients exactly what they want while his work still maintains a characteristic Martyn flavor. Nathan's approach is very collaborative, and because he is so warm and a amicable he gets the best results in the gentlest manner. Kathryn’s casual, comfortable, vivacious rooms are a mirror to her personality. She has a joie de vivre that translates perfectly in her design style and method.
The finished product in any design is a direct reflection of the relationship between the client and designer. The completed Hungry Cat is a combination of my original design scheme and the client David Lentz’s revisions based on his own point of view. David is very specific about the way he wants things. He picked the art, barstools, outdoor chairs, tables, planters, sound-proofing, and changed the seating and table design in the bar.
They say “There are no great decorators, only great clients." The reality of our industry is that without our clients we are nothing. Our clients are our patrons. They supply the funds with which we get to create our visions. Of course when clients try to play designer the results are often less than ideal.
Recently Vanity Fair asked a globally renowned panel of top producers in the design industry to take part in a poll to pick the best contemporary building in the world. The overwhelming winner was Frank Gehry’s Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Anybody who has seen pictures of the building can’t deny how extraordinary it is, a truly original vision brought to life. Truth is that this building would never have been built without client funding, but more extraordinary is that the Guggenheim foundation was wise enough to let Frank build his masterpiece and express his vision to its fullest potential, and it is the "fullest potential" part that is probably most important. They let Frank do what Frank really wanted to do, no holds barred, and the result is arguably the best contemporary building in the world. The perfect example of clients not playing designer.