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Some days I am proud of it; I am a resourceful person and can develop brilliant design solutions on a small budget . But in most cases the real success in commercial design comes from a more holistic level of thinking.

Client: Things are totally desperate, we have no money, but we need a lot of changes to create more sales and improved customer service….what have ya got?

Designer: Hold on, let me find a hat, a rabbit and a magic wand. Can you give me a couple days to whip up a potion?


Client: Sure. Do you think you can help us?

Designer: Yes, here , hold this paint deck and chain of laminates. I will be right back.

Returning to the client in a few days, typically I am prepared to tell them a variation of one of the following:

1. You don’t need a new (building, interior, furniture plan) to increase sales, you need to create a better customer experience which means a whole lot more than a paint scheme. Solution: Team training & goal setting.

2. You have a really great (building, interior, furniture plan) but you don’t know how to use it, maintain it. Solution: Company wide clean up, purge, reorganization with heart.

3. After investigation, we discovered that no matter what you do with your physical space, your employees are going to start a mutiny and destroy your customer experience. Solution: Separate HR issues from sales issues and strategically target solutions for both.

4. Your physical space is so out of synch with your brand and message, you better go find a pot of money and close the gap. Solution: Customer driven design empowered from top management.

5. Oh, and by the way, brown was the new black, but blue is now the new brown.

Nothing Up My Sleeve
Nothing Up My Sleeve

After the “you got to be kidding” look the client gives me, there is usually a recovery comment.

  • All I wanted was paint colors selected, or,
  • Won’t new task chairs fix the issue, or,
  • We just wanted to look more upscale and informed, we really didn’t want to figure out how to be more informed.

Good environmental design is only 1/5 of the total solution. Without alignment with team performance, sales & marketing focus, technology and tools, and commitments to sustainability, design is hollow.