CA: When designing for couples, has there ever been one person in a relationship who tried to dominate all the creative decisions that needed to be made in a project? If so, how did you help the other half find and exert their voice?
Yes. This happened several times on Designing for the Sexes.
One instance that sticks out in my mind was the time where the woman of the household actually said this on camera...
“You don’t need to speak with (we’ll call him “Joe”) Joe, because I actually do this sort of thing for a living. Joe is responsible for going out each day to work and make money. I, on the other hand, take care of the household and family. So you don’t need to speak with him at all.”
Obviously, she was being completely dismissive of her husband. So, after learning long ago that you can say just about anything with a smile on your face, I replied...
“Well that may be the case in the past, but this is now, and this is a show, and I really want to know what Joe feels about all this. I want to know his tastes, too.”
After I made my point, I launched into asking her about her taste, her preferences, her style, and her likes and dislikes. Then I questioned her on what she didn’t like about room we were to design, why she wanted to change it, and what her expectations were.
After listening to her responses, I then -- almost literally -- turned my back on her and said...
“Okay, Joe. Let’s talk about this. What do you have in mind? What are you seeing that’s going to be in this new space?”
And whenever she would try to sort of jump in, I’d say, “No. I really want to know what Joe feels like about this.”
Honestly, the feedback I received was oftentimes better when I was spotlighting Joe, because he was speaking from the bottom of his heart.
Finally, after collecting his input and her input, I sat down and designed their space, making sure he got a lot of what he wanted, and she got a lot of what she wanted.
Oh, and just as a little aside: I have to mention there were many occasions when Joe, the one who had never really had much of a design voice, was the one with a much better sense of style. He really had a fine eye, but had never been given the opportunity to reveal it.
All in all, it was a real learning experience for everyone involved.
Bonus Question From Erin Olson, Blogger @ HouseOfTurqouise.com:
Michael Payne: I adore turquoise, especially the combination of turquoise and white. But even though turquoise is enormously popular right now, it will eventually become unpopular.
You see, during these troubled economic times, I think somewhere deep within our subconscious we're coping by saying:
“Get me out of here. Let me go on a vacation. Let me go to some gorgeous island in the Caribbean. Let me just lay down on that gorgeous white, sandy beach and look over the ocean.”
(Which is, of course, the color turquoise.)
There’s this comforting relationship between ourselves and turquoise that happens when thoughts of relaxation, getting away from the world’s troubles, and forgetting our own personal issues arise. This is what I think turquoise does for the soul.
Coming Friday (9.13.12): Michael Payne will join us again to reveal some of his best kept secrets regarding how he helps couples conflicted by design disagreements compromise with each other.