In Good Harmony The Board/Designer Relationship

Good communication is key to making any relationship work—married or dating couple, parent and child, sibling to sibling, and best friend forever friendships. In the co-op and condo world, boards also have relationships—with vendors, designers, contractors, residents, and managers, just to name a few.

Good communication is just as key to making those relationships successful. How important? Consider this: a board wants to renovate their lobby, or redesign their community room and needs to work with a design professional to get the job done. It’s vital for board members to communicate their goals and wishes effectively to the design professional hired to execute the job. If they don‘t, the board will be left with an exasperated, frustrated designer or architect, animosity amongst the board and a project that satisfies no one.

There is good news though: the designers interviewed for this article have not experienced working with an uncommunicative, divided or “nightmare” board. Instead, almost all of our sources said that they’ve been very lucky. The boards they have worked with have done a fine job organizing—and agreeing on—their ideas before bringing in a professional and getting their needs and wants across in a positive manner.

But of course, it’s Murphy’s Law that says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” and there will be boards that don’t communicate quite so nicely. Karen Fisher, president of Design Previews in Manhattan, says that it’s inevitable that some boards are going to be in conflict. “Someone doesn’t want to do something that someone else does, or it comes out that they really didn’t have the money for something they wanted to do,” says Fisher.

Know Your Client

When you start dating, you move slowly and get to know the person you’re with. Board and designer relationships really aren’t all that different. The board reviews the designer’s sketches and ideas and the designer gets to know the board members. Hopefully it’s a good match on both ends and the designer will take on the project.


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