trade tales | Jun 18, 2021 |
15 designers on whether they shop with clients

Shopping with a client can be a nightmare or a dream, either overcomplicating the design process or providing unique insight into personal tastes. We asked 15 designers—Eva Bradley, Alicia Cheung, Julie Dodson, Chad Dorsey, Sharon Falcher, Carla Fonts Hrncir, Laurie Gorelick, Holly Hickey Moore, Lisa Hynes, Sherica Maynard, Doniphan Moore, Feyi Quadri, KD Reid, Deidre Remtema and Heather Weisz—whether they shop with their clients.

Eva Bradley and Alicia Cheung
Eva Bradley and Alicia CheungCourtesy of Studio Heimat

Show your worth
“We think it can actually be helpful to see firsthand the kinds of things the client is drawn to. It’s also a way to show the client how deeply ingrained we are with our vendors and showrooms. Sometimes, you get a client who gives you the sense they can ‘do it themselves’ and, through the shopping process, they have fun but by the end are often overwhelmed. We then get comments like, ‘Well, I’m glad I have you to do the shopping for us!’” —Eva Bradley and Alicia Cheung, Studio Heimat, San Francisco

Deidre Remtema
Deidre RemtemaCourtesy of Deidre Remtema

An art to it
“We typically don’t shop with our clients. Sourcing items for projects is a focused endeavor and we are on a mission, with very specific dimensions and finishes. The exception to that is artwork. We do spend time with clients at galleries or artists studios finding art or working on commissions.” —Deidre Remtema, Deidre Interiors, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard
Sharon Falcher and Sherica MaynardCourtesy of Interior Design by S&S

Give them options
“There are a few rare occasions when we will go shopping with clients, but as a full-service firm, we do all the heavy lifting. We like to say that we are bringing the store to you in the comfort of your own home. One reason we do not go shopping with clients is because they often get too distracted with so many options, like a kid in a candy store. This can lead to a lot of wasted time for both us and the client. We are not personal shoppers—we are designers.” —Sharon Falcher and Sherica Maynard, Interior Design by S&S, Atlanta

KD Reid
KD ReidCourtesy of KD Reid

Stay on track
“Taking a client to a showroom consumes a lot of time on a project. Physical shopping takes longer and produces fewer results than any other form of sourcing for products. I pre-shop so that we may be more efficient and successful while staying on pace. We’re really specific about what we’re searching for. We usually have a good idea of what each showroom has and can even contact sales reps to see what’s on the floor and make our shopping more effective. Things like antiques or natural stone countertops, however, are best purchased in person with clients.” —KD Reid, KD Reid Interiors, Newark, New Jersey

Holly Hickey Moore
Holly Hickey MooreCourtesy of Holly Hickey Moore

Body language
“Shopping with clients can be very energizing and a great tool for me. I can read people very well, so I know immediately what their likes and dislikes are. I see physical changes in my clients when they react to things. They tense up when they dislike something or some just go silent. Or, they look more relaxed and have this sort of glow when they find something they really like. Just half a day of shopping with a client immediately gives me a great sense of their taste and aesthetic.” —Holly Hickey Moore, Holly Hickey Moore Interior Design, Dallas

Feyi Quadri
Feyi QuadriCourtesy of Feyi Quadri

Fun times
“When clients want to shop with me, I make sure that we establish the design scheme, materials and color story beforehand so we are on the same page when we enter the store. I enjoy seeing a client’s face light up when they find certain pieces, and I think they enjoy being immersed in our world for a period of time during the process. As long as the boundaries are set and there is respect on both sides, I think shopping with a client can be a fun, collaborative experience.” —Feyi Quadri, Facette Design, Bowie, MD

Carla Fonts Hrcnir
Carla Fonts HrcnirCourtesy of Dunbar Road Designs

Special occasions
“I ask my clients if they would like to shop together at our first meeting. About 95 percent of them prefer not to for various reasons, which likely contributes to why they decide to hire an interior designer. I give my clients the option to shop for any items they have an affinity for once the overall design is complete. For special items—marble busts, for example—I’ll accompany them to a specialty store to find a one-of-a-kind addition.” —Carla Fonts Hrncir, Dunbar Road Design, Dallas

Doniphan Moore
Doniphan MooreCourtesy of Doniphan Moore

Get a feel
“Personally, I try to steer away from it. Whenever I do shop with clients, it’s to gain a general feel for what they like and don’t like, rather than to make concrete design decisions. Sometimes it can be beneficial to get a sense of what particular items or style a client is drawn to when seeing pieces in person. However, these outings are intentional and infrequent, as shopping with clients has the tendency to overcomplicate the design process rather than lead to progress.” —Doniphan Moore, Doniphan Moore Interiors, Dallas

Heather Weisz and Lisa Hynes
Heather Weisz and Lisa HynesCourtesy of HW Interiors

A rarity
“While we don’t have a hard-and-fast rule against it, we strongly discourage shopping with clients. We find the whole process can become overwhelming for those unfamiliar with the business. They second-guess or can’t see the vision, which can sometimes lead to a painful experience to be avoided, if possible! We have done it on occasion for clients who had a strong desire to tush-test every sofa, but that was a rare exception.” —Heather Weisz and Lisa Hynes, HW Interiors, Palm Beach

Chad Dorsey
Chad DorseyCourtesy of Chad Dorsey

Targeted plan
“If I take a client out shopping, it is after much discussion in my studio, and very targeted and specific. I like to scout out where we are going, create an agenda and make it efficient. Going in with a plan of attack keeps everyone focused. On the other hand, buying trips can be the opposite: It should still be organized—and organized around a definitive shopping list—but also be loose and open to surprises and cool finds.” —Chad Dorsey, Chad Dorsey Design, Dallas

Laurie Gorelick
Laurie GorelickCourtesy of Laurie Gorelick

Natural occurrence
“For some precious items, I insist that my clients accompany me to view the material before finalizing an order. Vintage items and antiques also fall into this category because they may have defects typical of their age. Similarly, I want clients to sign off on natural materials like stone slabs and wood flitches because of their inherent non-uniform variations.” —Laurie Gorelick, Laurie Gorelick Interiors, Boston

Julie Dodson
Julie DodsonCourtesy of Julie Dodson

Change of direction
“I don’t usually shop with clients. They can’t visualize like we can. Just by changing one piece, they can take a concept in a whole different direction. A lot of clients don’t know what they want; they rely on us to interpret what it is they want. There are so many options out there and there’s so much to see, I try to shop for them and bring the ideas and concepts to them. And honestly, [most of the time] my clients don’t want to come shopping with me.” —Julie Dodson, Dodson Interiors, Houston

Homepage photo: A kitchen by HW Interiors | Courtesy of HW Interiors

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