Design Project ‘Black List’

After two decades of working in the industry, I have learned some projects are just not meant to be. It is important to recognize those potentially problematic projects early. Taking on wrong projects results in misery for all parties involved. 

Here are some signs when a project is not right for me:

  • Unethical and/or Harmful to people, animals, or the environment. 

I became a professional designer to do good. I adhere to my set of codes of conduct.

  • Not complying with codes and regulations.

It is too much work trying to get around the codes and regulations. And it is usually not successful.

  • Order to Comply

I do not enjoy ‘reverse engineering’ and trying to make sense of a completed project based on a not thought out design. (If it was well designed, it would have gotten a permit.)

  • Post disaster with insurance involved.

These unexpected projects are complicated with many moving parts. Owners are not prepared to manage the project and also want to add on to the scope of work. It is too much for my small one-person studio to handle.

  • Unrealistic timeline and/or budget. 

This is a common situation. Most people do not have knowledge how long and how much things can take.  

  • Drafting only.

I am not interested in clients acting like designers and only wish to pay for drafting. It is a disaster when the person handling the design aspect is not qualified as a designer.

  • Demanding 3D rendering.

I am capable of communicating my ideas through sketches and drawings. If necessary, I create 3D study models. Clients should trust my abilities as a designer, not computer generated images.

  • Product-purchasing oriented.

My studio currently doesn’t have the manpower to manage product purchases. With large projects, I partner with an interior designer that is equipped and experienced in handling this task.

  • Disagreement to my business terms and conditions.

As a professional designer, I know how to conduct my business to ensure the best project outcome.

  • Wrong area of expertise.

I am not the right designer for every project. I know my limits and will recommend other experts if the project is out of my area of expertise.

  • Charity project.

The problem with giving away design ideas is people are often too grateful and don’t want to bother me to follow up when it comes to time for executing the project. 

  • It just doesn’t feel right.

Sometimes, without reason, the energy just doesn’t feel right. 

I don’t mind being seen as difficult to work with. My job is providing the best design solutions and seeing them through. It is important to do the homework before acting on any design projects. Most experienced professionals, myself included, will provide consultation services to sort out preliminary ideas. Ultimately, I want to only work on projects that ‘spark joy’.

[Ask Michelle] I can’t Afford a Designer!

Designers are expensive. My project is small and I am planning to do part of work myself. My contractor said he had done many similar projects and would help me with selecting products materials.
The truth is you can’t afford not having a designer. Designers are more than having fancy styles and good taste and know how to shop. In order to be professional designers, one has invested years of hard work to gain knowledge, skills, and experience. A good designer guides you through options, organizes the information, and prevents mistakes. Without a designer, you are risking spending more money and time and settling for a less-satisfactory result. You should figure 10% – 15% of your budget for design. You don’t always need a full-service package. Even small projects can use design input. If you can’t afford hiring a designer, you can’t afford the project.
Contractors are not designers. They may be design enthusiasts like yourself, but there is a reason they didn’t choose to work as designers. (Some firms do offer design and build services. In such case, you should check their qualifications for designing and building.) On the other hand, ask questions if a designers offers to act as a general contractor.