It is the new year, the stock markets are in, shall we say, a state of flux, and housing starts are at a low ebb. With all this, we still find we are able to make the occasional sale. In fact, we delivered a nice piece of goods to a wonderful home in southern California just last weekend and had a chance to visit with the homeowner, an astonishing businesswoman with a sense of optimism tempered with a practicality acquired, no doubt, through the school of hard knocks. Even though she’s a veteran of the rough and tumble of business, she is certainly one of the kindest people I’ve met recently, and generous with her wisdom.
Her home is magnificent and in the three years since its acquisition, she’s done some great things to it, without altering its original design integrity. Actually, she’s almost entirely reversed the damage done by the previous owner, whose garish lack of taste resulted in an interior scheme she characterized as ‘early Christmas tree lights’. She, however, is a business woman through and through, whose homes, to date, have been merchandise she has bought and sold. She does, however, like the home she’s in presently, as well she should, and is happy to stay. Herein, then, is the valuable bit of market intelligence she has communicated to us- she is happy to stay in her home during the present real estate nadir, and, while not looking for the next project, she can focus, then, on the home’s perfection- patiently looking for and finding just the right pieces of furniture and artwork. She has slowed the pace down from what was formerly always moving to a frenzied completion, with an eye for immediate sale.
In the last several years- certainly from 2002 through 2005- a number of our interior design clients were working on projects at a pace that one would expect if they were trying to complete an interior design show house- which, in fact, they were, as many of their clients were expecting to cash in on a sale once the project looked remotely complete. No designer I’ve ever met enjoys working under such pressure to complete. Creativity can’t be rushed, and inspired design, informed by a collaboration between the designer and the client takes months, if not years, to accomplish. What, then, I think we will see from the present market slowdown will be an efflorescence of fine design, the kind of design that can only take place when the designer has the time to get to know the client, really understand the project, and also has the opportunity to fully utilize the resources that the marchands mercier make available.