The Good, the Bad, and the (Really) Ugly When Design Equals Compromise

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “There’s no accounting for taste.” “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” While these age-old adages generally hold true, when it comes to working with design committees in co-op and condo spaces, there may actually be some hard-and-fast rules about what looks good and what doesn’t. Making sure everyone involved in the decision-making process understands these parameters can help avoid dissatisfied residents—and maybe a few faux brass light fixtures.

So what constitutes “good design?” Is it a certain color palette? Elements from a specific time-period? Post-modern minimalism?

Dan Jacoby, design director of interiors for Manhattan-based FX Fowle Architects, LLP, says it’s a lot more wide open than that. “First and foremost, good design is the sound application of basic principals relating to space, light, form and color,” he says. “Otherwise, we’re just talking about individual taste, which is personal, subjective, and related to the fashion of the moment. As long as taste is in the service of good design, then anything can work.”

Historically Designed

Making those tasteful choices and guiding the client to an end result they like is the primary job of the interior designer. These days, consulting with a designer is wise when considering the public areas of a residential building. Though most of an individual’s time is spent inside their individual apartment, first impressions made by their building’s lobby, hallways, and foyer are lasting ones that contribute greatly to the value of the property—both real and perceived. Throughout the years, interior designers have been helping people make those stunning impressions and adding value to their clients’ property.

“[Interior design] was first based on guilds with specialized tradesmen of a particular skill,” says Kim Depole of Kim Depole Design, a successful interior design firm in Soho featured on Oprah and the Style Network, among others. “Design went through a liberation just following the Victorian era. The industrial age and class liberation and the influence of so many cultures created the catalyst for change.”

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