Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beauty And The Beast

Beauty and "the Beast"
I get a call. I answer. A girl is on the other end. Sounds kind of unsure, a little frantic, and tells me she needs lampshades. A pair. Like yesterday. They "have" to be these certain dimensions and white. Immediately I know what is coming next. She's a "designer". They're for a "client". Of course.
Upon further discussion, I asked her why she needed those dimensions. She paused. Then she said, "Because that's the size of the ones that came on the lamps". She went on to say that she's never bought lampshades separate from a lamp. Head, meet desk. How does someone call themselves a designer and have no idea that the best lampshade for a lamp may look nothing like the one that came with it?? Where is the vision? The creativity? How has someone in that industry never bought a lampshade separate from a lamp before? Stymied, I am.

Because the scenario above is not new. Not new by any stretch of the imagination. This happens ALL THE TIME. They need it "like yesterday" and practically for free.

I would really love to know exactly what qualifies someone to call themselves a decorator or an interior designer. I am aware there is schooling to be a designer but having worked in retail, where we actually DO design and make products, I am at a loss in dealing with those who use those titles. If I've dealt with a hundred designers in the nine years I've been in this business, I'd say that I could count five who I would actually consider a designer, who designs something, and who I could recommend to someone. And that's being generous.

With as many people calling themselves designers as there are, there have to be then thousands of clients. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that of those thousands of clients, it would be impossible that they all have the same lamp. So why do 99% of decorators and designers ask us for the same thing? They all want a "white or egg, hardback drum in a linen or silk". This could be the most boring and least aesthetically pleasing of any of the choices in our store. We have it to sell just because that's what they ask for. But funny enough, the end users that come in without decorators and designers NEVER ask for that. Nevermind that the designers never bring in the lamp and are fine with just grabbing whatever is here, but I'm not sure what the endgame is with that shade. They'll take a hundred year old porcelain vase, which is nowhere close to being called "contemporary", stick that ugly white hardback on there, call it "transitional" and they're done.

I also don't understand how they have any business when they're filling everyone's house with the same thing. Or just taking, "whatever" in a pinch to fill a need. We had a "designer" call from a tv show. She needed to run over and grab "some black lampshades" for a well-known local celebrity who was having a room done over on a reality show. We asked if the celebrity then has to live with these lamps and shades from the makeover and the designer said that the lamps and shades picked were to keep. Baffled again. How do these people have jobs? I should have this job. If it's as easy as that! She didn't even care what they looked like. It's not even a design on a budget show! This celebrity is known to flaunt money on his own show. I don't know why HE and/or his wife would want to cheap out on their lighting and let someone like this pick décor out for them. How does a show have such little interest in showcasing something better? Do they just assume people will think it's attractive just because a designer on the show says it's so?
I'm scratching my head because I fight people on the daily to push the envelope to really do something special. I tell people that I don't let ugly things leave my store. I really CARE what people are buying from me. It hurts me when someone wants something plain and boring when I know I can do their lamps so much better. I could just sell white shallow hardback drums all day if I didn't care that my name was attached to it.
To me, this is being a glorified shopper. They aren't "designing" anything. I'd be hardpressed to say they're even decorating something. Doing the same thing in every house is like the real life version of Copy & Paste.They're taking a lamp made in China, stamped with an expensive name, that looks like it came from Target, and sticking a dime a dozen lampshade on it. While cooing the magic words, "clean lines". Or they're taking someone's family heirloom lamp and trying to make it contemporary by just sticking that white, plastic, shallow drum shade on it. Who couldn't do that? My five year old is more creative when he takes lamp parts off our showroom floor to "design" his own lamp. There is no way I would PAY someone to just take whatever a store had two of and be done with it.

I've been in what looks like it would be a gorgeous home- from the outside. Homes that are meant to have unique pieces. I go in and every lamp looks cheap. Meanwhile, I can see they put time and effort into other things like draperies and countertops. Yet the lighting is awful. It's a crime. Or really, sometimes, it's just sadly boring. It looks like it could be the demo house for one of those McMansion developments where people "build" from scratch but all similar from a basic design. But it's not. People live there. You just can't tell because it's a sea of beige with "contemporary" style and no personality whatsoever.
I also don't know where this push came from to make everything "contemporary". Maybe because now, most of what is considered contemporary is cheaper? Maybe it's cheap to the designer and they can mark it up more? It is just easier to find? Remember the 80's, when everything became "contemporary"? Lacquer, ginger jar lamps, glass, mirror, bright brass, shiny, plastic. It was bad. So why would anyone wanting a "high end" look want to bring back "contemporary". To me, even the expensive contemporary isn't that far off from the 80's. It all looks like it could've come from Ikea. Not a knock on Ikea, but if I'm paying a decorator, I don't want my house to look like everyone else's. I want statement pieces. I want unique. I don't want the same lamps and shades that look like they belong in any dorm across America. Of course there are lamps where this type of shade works or goes with it, but they are few and far between and what is cheap, usually looks cheap. And these ALL look cheap. I just don't get it.
The Beast
I rarely have someone who calls themselves a decorator or designer come in and really work up something cool with me. Luckily, *I* am the designer in my store and can work with the thousands of people who don't work with designers. I have photo upon photo of really awesome stuff I've done and making someone's lighting into functioning art.

If you have that shade in your house, you should come and see me.

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