Cool & Confident - Design Bureau

Cool & Confident

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

interview by Kristen Eichenmuller
portrait by Vinna Laudico
architecture photos by André Doyon

Montreal interior designer René Desjardins discusses picking a team with talent, and why designers should consider getting a minor in psychology.

Designers need to apply a little psychology to convince clients to adopt your ideas. If you can express your aesthetic choices rationally, then clients will usually support your decisions. But sometimes a little more persuasion is necessary. I recently worked with a powerful businessman who was not used to being told “no.” When I felt his judgment was wrong, I didn’t tell him directly. Instead, I’d present him with a series of alternatives that he could choose from, and then ask for his opinion.  

I work collaboratively with sub-contractors. I surround myself with the best people in the trade, and listen seriously to them, because their specialized knowledge can often add to my ideas. We push one another to go further, and the end result is a product that everyone involved can be proud of.

When I find the right people, I do everything I can to keep them. When choosing my design team, I look for people with talent, with an eye for good design. You either have it or you don’t. Organization, responsibility, and the capacity for teamwork are also important. 

Don’t work with clients that you don’t love. I’ve learned to listen to my first instincts about a client, my gut reaction to them.

The key to creating a unique project is deep listening. Every project has its own particular givens: the style of a house, the site, the clients’ lifestyle. When you truly respect and respond to these conditions, it forces you to be creative, and by necessity you will create something unique. If you use cut-and-paste, you’re doomed.

Being an interior designer takes confidence. Once you’ve decided on the key ideas and direction of a project, you have to be solid to see it through in all the details. You’re the one driving the show.

Don’t work with clients that you don’t love. I’ve learned to listen to my first instincts about a client, my gut reaction to them. To work well with someone, you need to have affinities, to be on the same level intellectually, to share core values. Creation is an act of love, so it’s a necessity to start from a relationship based on common ground and mutual respect. 

If I could create any space, I would make a glass box in the woods. It would be a contemporary house, protected to the north and open to nature and views on all the other sides. In fact, I just bought a piece of property, so this will become a reality in the near future.

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