The Haute Design Network by Haute Residence brought together four designers from across the country to sit down and discuss the collaborative effort that goes into to each and every design project.
"It Takes a Village" webinar was hosted by Haute Living Media Group Senior VP, April Donelson and included the following designers: Julia Wong of Julia Wong Designs, Michele Salazar of Cozy Salazar Interiors, Hafsa Burt of hb+a Architects and Michael Miller of Centaur Interiors. Principals and Designers may get all the limelight, but they will also be the first to admit that there is a massive team behind them throughout every step of a design project. Haute Design Experts revealed just how collaborative of a process this truly is.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
April Donelson: Before becoming a designer, did you enjoy working in teams or group projects?
Hafsa Burt: I would say it's just part of the culture, to work in teams. But in college, we would have to work in teams for projects. In most cases, I would lead those design teams. I was able to inspire those design teams. I did not lead by force but certainly by inspiration. So, over time, you just learnt that you have to work in teams. Anybody who is a professional in this environment just knows you cannot exist merely on your single discipline or single focus. And, of course, the more you work in teams, the larger the project becomes and the more production happens and collaboration leads to successful outcomes.
AD: If ____ were not by your side, you would not be able to finish the project. Fill in the blank.
Michael Miller: I have a site superintendent that has been working for me since about 1999. So, we've got about 22 years if history, his name is Pepe. We have pretty much worked on everything together so he's probably done close to 100 projects of ours. At this point, we're on the same wavelength where we need minimum conversation to understand each other. I can tell just by his face and he knows what to do and he's got it.
He's a working superintendent so he's like a master craftsman but he can do everything: finished carpentry, drywall, painting, taping, electrical work, plumbing work, you name it.
And just to note, I have some clients who we have worked with for a long time, some of which we have done maybe three times for, and we all know that we can even leave Pepe with our kids if we have to go to a meeting or something last minute. So, it's good that the clients have trust in my team where they almost treat us like family.
AD: While collaboration within the execution of a project is critical, do you ever prefer to work in solitude while conceiving a layout design or do you prefer to collaborate then as well?
Julia Wong: I tend to start the design process by myself. I tend to go away to the design center or to my own office and being to put the story together so that when I do meet withy my team, I have a good direction on where we're going. Because there are so many components to the design, that there is not a lot of time to spend on the creative side. We would love if that were the case. People think we just sit in our office and design and go and pick out colors and things like that. The reality is, we have a lot less design time that people imagine.
So, I definitely need to sit by myself first to get my thoughts together, so that when I do present to my team or the client, I have a good sense of where we're going. Once we get the ball rolling, I enjoy the teamwork aspect a lot more.
AD: Who would you say are the unsung heroes in the design industry as a whole, who deserve more recognition?
Michele Salazar: Any one working in production right now, despite who frustrated we may become with that realm of design, they're really getting the thick of it.
When people get fed up or become impatient, they get really upset because this is a very personal business. There are multiple businesses around the world but when it comes to your home, at least for those of us who do residential, it's very personal. So, I think that those who are on the other end of things and dealing with impatient people are the unsung heroes, because for us, the designers, we can relay that unfortunately certain things are out of our control. But at the end of the day somebody is deemed responsible and they do have to answer to these complaints and they are having a tough time right now.
Watch the entire conversation below: