Admired and envied at the same time, a designer’s work is often viewed with a certain mystique combined with a magnetic curiosity, which is hard to let go of. They seem to see and sense things that others do not, to say things that others don’t think of, to put together environments that simply splash out of their brains like water from a broken water-main pipe.
The icons of the profession go far beyond building an interior. Their work fascinates and intoxicates the user in the most spectacular ways. How do they do that? They simply learn to master their true vocation and, even more important, to control and channel their personal style into what they do.
BUT WHAT’S PERSONAL STYLE?
Popular definitions are often limited to the aesthetic realm, making it highly vision-dependant, as if that is the only sense that matters. But it takes more than that. The key to having a style is giving in to your aura, to your very essence of being, recognizing what makes you tick and letting it out and making it visible to the world.
Cambridge dictionary defines it as “a way of doing something, especially one that is typical of a person, group of people, place, or period.”
Condensed in our very own being, style is, at the root of it, the sum of choices we make about how to live our lives. When those choices are aligned and homogenous with what we do, our professional power increases to sky-high limits.
When you get to know yourself and be true about what you like and what you can and cannot do, an amazing thing happens: right there, where passion and talent intersect, where the skill you have polished, or are about to, anchors itself in your gut and gives you that adrenalin of pure enjoyment, that is the moment when you will be producing your best work. Unbeknown to you, the reasons why that happens are simple: you’ve tapped into the best mix of what your style is about:
To make anything, one needs to see beyond what’s there. One needs to be a voyeur. A voyeurist’s power is learned as much as it is instinctual, however, the latter is the one that is the most envied. When something comes naturally to you, effortless, stressless, it carries an elegance that supersedes anything done through hard labour. It has that magic that you cannot put your finger on, yet it is there, undefined, but definitely real.
A designer, unlike a decorator, is closer to what I would call an “interior architect.” Designers go through quite extensive education. They learn about space perception and construction, ergonomics, good lighting, mathematical proportions and functional relationships between rooms and objects in the room; they learn about available local resources, methods and processes of production of all the materials they use; everything from carpet fibres to appliances, to the latest technologies in flooring to the most healthy wallpapers, from light fixtures that build great ambiance to textiles that you simply have to have against your skin.
They learn the design science and become masters of the interior universe to a point where, like a magician, they can build you a world of your own.
If you think of people, there cannot be anything that one does or wants to do unless it is related to them, their ideals, values, or who they are or want to become. Great designers are chameleons. They infiltrate the client’s mind and learn to live and breathe the way their clients do. Only not exactly how they do in reality, but how they would want to do in their positively aggrandized self. They turn into that ideal image that the client wants to become. Not as a person to be idolatrized, but as a portrayer of a lifestyle you want to live, a life you aspire to. A life for which they have the recipe, and they can give it to you. What makes that possible is not always a natural affinity between client and designer – although sometimes you can just click, we’re all humans, after all! – but most of the time, it is just the right mix of professionally learned skills, genetics and drive, sprinkled with a tad of luck.
A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
Very few of us, as humans, can chronically perform well in tasks that we do not love. A profession like design is a fragile flower that cannot grow and bloom without the true love of its gardener. Imagination and creative power do not come out of the creator’s mind just because they exist there. They need to be nourished, they need a mind that constantly feeds on great experiences, pleasantries, and happiness. Some say that anguish can be as empowering and inspirational as happiness, if not more so. As much as that can be true for a writer that finds words flowing out of them during a moment of crisis – in the case of design, that seldom happens, if at all. A designer’s soul needs to be happy, fulfilled, and in a good place in order to be able to churn out those imaginative thoughts.
Like mixology, the way design webs itself out of nothing is the simultaneous weaving of skills, passions, a healthy living, and letting go of boundaries that tie you to prescriptive norms.
That’s what makes the world of design so fascinating to others: our capacity to live well, to imagine things that others do not, to see beyond what is naturally visible and to make something out of it that is unique and transformative. This is the exuberant result of constant effort but, most importantly, the inherent style-aura that shines bright for others to see.