Today’s post is the first in a blog series that’s been on my mind for quite a long time. Many times after I post designer interviews, and especially since I’ve posted my interview ISAK founder and designer Sandra Isaksson, I’ve been getting a lot of responses about how refreshing and even important it is to hear about the first steps of designers that “made it”, how interesting it is to learn what they struggled with in the beginning and what was THE point that defined their success, their signature design aesthetic etc. I for one, believe there may be more than one point like this for each person/designer, but all of this definitely made me think of learning curves we face as people in the design industry (may we be industrial designers, interior designers, architects, prop stylists, bloggers, shop owners…). So, after this very long and a little boring intro, I present you with the first of Rooms and Words’ new monthly blog series, where I’ll invite people I follow and admire from the design industry to share their own learning curves with us. First up is talented interior designer Scott Talmon. A Canadian native, Scott now resides in Tel Aviv and designs commercial and residential spaces with his signature masculine-yet-beautiful (absolutely not a contradiction, though many designers tend to think it is) chic, which I adore. Scott also recently started a beautiful design blog called dezinetribe. I got to know Scott through our mutual friend (and talented designer on her own right) Aline Langlieb, and ever since have been inspired by him and his work.
For years Elle Decoration was my monthly must read. I pored over its pages studying the interiors and evaluating the picks of on-trend furniture and accessories. The thought of being published in the magazine was akin to what I imagined to be the pinnacle of design success, like in the immortal words of Sally Field upon accepting her Academy Award ‘…you like me, right now you like me’.
A few years ago I submitted photographs of a home I designed to the very same magazine. In truth, I didn’t really think they would publish the photos nor did I think they would even reply to me. It was like playing the lottery; I bought a ticket and fantasized about what I’d do with the money, but knew my chances of winning were less than being hit by a comet. I did receive a reply from an editor in which she thanked me for my submission but that the design was not in the style currently trending in the magazine.
Tomorrow is a new beginning, says the art in this bedroom designed by Talmon | photo: Shai Epstein
Elle Decoration is one of thirty international editions published by a huge media company. Content is selected based on major design trends and several issues will carry that design style (as is evidenced by looking through a year’s worth of magazines). Change doesn’t happen overnight in huge companies and therefore major shifts in the magazine’s content don’t happen from issue to issue.
This experience, along with the above mentioned understanding, led me to a number of invaluable truths which now form the cornerstone of my business philosophy. Upon being ‘rejected’ I spent time thinking, ‘If only I designed the house like those I see in the pages of the magazine they would have surely printed the photos of my project’. Well, if I copied other designers’ styles what would my own point of view be? What I bring to the table as a designer may not be everyone’s taste but it is what my clients hire me for.
First and foremost I design for my clients. It is their home or place of business and I’m designing on their money which is also paying my bills. As a self-employed interior designer I’m also running a business. I design in the real world not in that which the client says here’s my budget do what you wish and I’ll be back for the big reveal (as fabulous as that would be). In each project I always state my opinion and push it when I think it’s the right design choice. My clients have their own opinions of what they like and how they want their space to be designed. It is a collaborative effort so learning to pick my battles and when to let go of my ego goes a long way.
Design in the British Council | photo courtesy of Scott Talmon
Just like design trends work is cyclical. I go from intense periods where I’m working on more than one project at once and back to back projects to periods when there’s nothing. I’ve learned to accept that this is going to happen although I haven’t fully mastered staying calm and not worrying when the next project will come along. I’m working on it, but realizing that this is a reality goes a long way in helping me effectively use the down time which leads me to my next point – self-market.
Self-marketing isn’t something that I relish but it is a necessary part of being self-employed. I always have my business card on the ready whenever I meet someone and try my best to effectively use social media. Whilst I’m not fervent about all forms of social media I focus on those I can use well and in fact using it helps me hone my own brand.
Milano Bedding showroom – designed by Scott | photo: Mali Goldfarb
In the end the same project which didn’t make it into Elle Decoration was covered in another magazine and on several design blogs. As cliché as it may be, persistence does pay off and the internet is full of great design blogs. In fact the blogosphere is now my go to place for keeping current of design trends and what others are doing. It is much more immediate and provides a great variety of design.
Israeli-based interior designer Scott Talmon