[TBG] Is there a trend that you’ve noticed among New York clients?
[BNO] One thing that we’ve noticed is that men are really interested in design. This has been ignored for years, but I believe it is rapidly changing. Fifteen years ago, if you were working with a couple, the wife would be in charge of everything. Now, our male clients contribute their opinion, they make calls to follow up, they create a Pinterest page, and they send us images for reference. The clients we work with currently are more of an equal design team than in the past. In terms of aesthetics, I find a popular trend is to mix the mid-century modern style that was popular in the last ten years with more artistic interiors. People like to collect everything. They are interested in décor from various periods, and want the chance to experiment with more than one style.
[TBG] How do you collaborate with clients to ensure their tastes and lifestyles are being met, while ensuring their homes are practical and comfortable to live in?
[BNO] We interview the clients and open a Pinterest page for the team. On that page, we naturally include furniture and lighting pieces, but we also find images that capture the desired feeling the client wishes to have upon entering the home, where they can place their shoes, among other overlooked aspects. It helps our design process to use the clients’ feedback and Pinterest pages as reference when we make the detailed proposal, because when we finally present it, it is essentially perfect. Our clients are never surprised – in my experience, surprise is usually negative and something you want to avoid. If I want to suggest an idea or a direction to take the design in, I let my clients know that they should feel comfortable telling me no. And if they say no, I move on. Transparency connects us with clients and builds a strong collaboration between us, so when they see the design, they feel like they are a part of it. They’ve actually seen the process ahead of time because we included them in every step of the process. At the end, when we present our detailed proposal, it is essentially perfect because it was exactly what they were looking for.
[TBG] Do you have any thoughts on virtual staging and other post-production tools that are rising in popularity? Have you made efforts to incorporate them, or do you see this software as competition?
[BNO] Actually, I see it as a very useful tool. My friend asked for my opinion on an apartment that he built using an app, and you could move furniture around and really create the space. None of our clients have brought it up with us, but I think it’s a good tool. What we use is realistic 3D renderings for hotels and other commercial spaces, and they are so realistic that our clients use it in their marketing instead of pictures. Those renderings are very effective for commercial projects, and great to present to marketing teams or the board of directors. For residential projects, I like to make hand-drawn sketches. They are a little bit more personal, and they don’t feel so committed or “done.” Sometimes, when you present something to the client that’s too “done,” they feel like you’re imposing on them. I want my clients to feel like they have a say in the process, and that their opinion matters. Sketches help convey the feeling of the space without being completely constructed – they’re friendlier.
[TBG] Do you notice a common misconception that your clients have about interior design?
[BNO] People tend to think that we spend a lot of money. As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite – the client is the one that spends the money. We try to always be conservative and use the money in the best places possible, while in our experience, the client ends up being the one that raises the budget. Our team works with a particular budget in mind, and when we meet the budget and present the proposal to the clients, they usually ask us to add to various aspects and spend more for certain items they want. The misconception I hear from many people is that designers spend too much money, which I think is the opposite. We try to save you money – we get things you need and can actually use, and we know how to modify existing items so they look like new pieces.