Being on a new cable system, I’ve spent the last few weeks enjoying Trading Spaces, a show on TLC. I’ve mentioned before how much I love home improvement shows, and having an interior design/improvement show on several times a week has been great. For the most part, the redesigns are superb, on a tight budget a team of designers give one impressive makeover after another. It’s interesting to watch designers work within the tight confines of small budget, and reminds me a lot of working within the confines of browsers when doing web design.
Also like web design, it’s easy to spot bad design. One of the designers, Doug, is the epitome of bad, arrogant designers, and I don’t mean design strictly in the visual sense. Design isn’t just a matter of taste and style, at the heart of design is problem solving. Given the constraints available, and the goals for a project, a good designer creates a solution that solves the problems using their creativity. Doug, however, spends show after show ignoring the goals and spirit of his clients, argues with guests whenever he doesn’t get his way, and has a knack for creating solutions that neither solve the original problems nor meet any of the goals. Imagine single purpose rooms designed in a space that was supposed to be multipurpose, imagine designs that go against the sole constraints given, imagine a designer that gets huffy and walks out of the room when people disagree or offer even the slightest bit of criticism.
He’s the designer I love to hate, and every episode he appears on reminds me that I should listen to clients, figure out and communicate goals to everyone involved, and work within constraints when hard limits are given.