Three Strikes in the Design World

Three Strikes and You’re Out is a rule I implemented in my design business years ago.  Here’s why. 

Ideally, as designers we should check our egos at the door and be mindful that our clients’ projects are just that, our clients’.  However, they are hiring us for our professional input and, although they may be great at many things, they wouldn’t have sought our services if they didn’t believe they needed our design expertise. (Well, that’s not exactly true, some say they want our help, BUT they don’t actually. That’s a whole other post!)

Take a man who has sold the company he slaved away at for years and is finally building his dream residence – a glorious glass beach house. The architect is creating a modern structure overlooking waves crashing onto the shore and you, as the designer, envision this.


Then, his wife hands you a photo like below and says, “My husband promised me that if I agreed to move, he’d let me duplicate the interior of our house up north.”  


First, you look at the architect to see if he’s in on the gag. When he’s clueless, and you realize that he’s obviously never seen her idea for the interior, you check for cameras in the corner of the room. You think – Is this what it feels like to be Punk’d?

When it’s clear the wife is serious and the husband is looking at you, as if to say, “She’s ALL yours,” it’s like you’re walking onto the field deciding whether to pitch or act like you’re a retired hitter. Once you step onto the mound, the builder, acting as the pitching coach, reminds you that the house needs to look fabulous for photographs. Now, you feel like you’re stranded between two bases and you haven’t been up to bat.

If your first pitch, a curve ball, fails to shift her concepts to compliment the architecture, you throw a fast ball hoping it will zip right down the middle and you’ll find balance between the two styles. Once there are two strikes, I’ve learned to throw only one more pitch. Once that final pitch is swung at and missed, by her unwillingness to listen to a professional opinion, she’s out.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I walk. It means that I’m smart enough to know not to bat without a helmet. It’s akin to banging your head up against a wall, over and over, and expecting the outcome to change.


Sometimes, no matter how much you may want photographs of a fabulous project, you have to remember that there are still some people who insist on their carpet matching their drapes…and clothes…and sofa.  Thankfully, I’m not the one living with them!

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