KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for July, 2010

Jul 29 2010

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Ten reasons you fail to get your fees

If you’re feeling overworked and underpaid this long, hot summer, don’t blame your clients.

Chances are, you’re undervaluing your services or committing one of the other common “money miscues” of kitchen and bath pros.

The audio program Twice the Price: Double Your Dollars as a Design Professionals points out that  many pros don’t get the fees that they set because they:

1/ fail to qualify prospects, as to their need, budget, commitment and authority to hire a design professional.

2/ lower their fees without reducing their service.

3/ undercharge for expenses.

4/ don’t explain their services.

5/ don’t realize that price objections are buying signals. (A prospect wouldn’t take the time to complain about your fees if she was disinterested in your services.)

6/ give away their time.

7/ discuss price too soon.

8/ discuss budget too late.

9/ don’t differentiate themselves from those who charge less.

10/ don’t attach a value to themselves and their service.

Fred Berns

Jul 28 2010

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By appointment only

Closing the studio to walk-in traffic

After being open to the public in our Simsbury, CT, location (about 1,000 square feet on a beautiful backwater thoroughfare) for 18 months, I am changing to an “Appointment Only” format.

It is unbelievable, when your OPEN flag is out, how many snake oil salesmen, fund raisers, advertising reps, tire kickers and SPIES come in everyday and try to throw you OFF your course, and ONTO theirs. “Oh, wait a minute, I wasn’t doing anything important, let me DROP what I was doing, and see if you can coax some money out of my checkbook, and/or waste MY time on what YOU want me to do?” No Thanks, I’m all set!

I further noticed that while I was out supervising projects and working on jobs, the office person, who cost a lot of money to keep there with lights and heat/AC on, was prepping folks for them and sooner or later I would meet them and have to start all over by introducing myself.

All that was an issue, but this was the worst. You’re talking to a couple about their wants, needs and dreams, and someone waltzes in unannounced, wrecks the concentration, and you lose them both.

With the door locked and a valuable person who bothered to call and make an appointment in front of you alone, you can focus on THEM, and spend all the time you need to help them make decisions and ask questions and be comfortable taking the information in at their own speed.

It’s fun every now and then to look out the window and see, after encountering a locked door, the snake oil being loaded back into the trunk and watch the thing drive away as you close your happy client on decision after decision. I don’t miss walk-ins at all.

In my humble opinion,

Mark Brady

Jul 27 2010

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In the shadow of giants

A few months back, a kitchen I designed for Bazzèo was awarded the GOLD medal for “Innovation in Design” from the British publication Designer. Shortly after the announcement, I received an invitation from Cisco Brothers to be a special guest at a dinner they were hosting for the Sustainable Furniture Council during the High Point Show. I was honored to be recognized and for the opportunity to represent Bazzèo.

KaganWhen I arrived at the venue for the evening’s event, I was informed by the press assistant for Cisco Brothers that the other guest of honor was Vladimir Kagan, the iconic, mid-century furniture designer that I have idolized since my youth. And then, like a ton of bricks, the immensity of the evening struck me full force.  Who was I to share the spotlight with a GOD?  What would I say, how would I act?  How do you speak with giants?  For the first time in my adult life…I had sweaty palms.

About an hour before the dinner, the atmosphere changed. You could feel it in the air. The very atmosphere was alive with noise: ”he’s here…he’s here!”  And there he was, with two canes and an assistant to help him up the stairs. It was hard at first to see the young, handsome man from the photographs in the Sixties that I had grown up with, but then, there they were—that classic Kagan smile and that glint in his eye as he surveyed the room. Shortly thereafter, Vladimir and I were introduced and we sat down to have a drink before the evenings event was to begin.

“So young man,” he began and though I am in my late fifties, I was feeling all of nine years as he spoke to me. “What do you do”

“I am a designer,” I said.

”That’s wonderful…me too” he said.

I spent the evening listening to his life story—from his boyhood in pre-war Germany to his arrival in 1938 in the U.S.—and his early love for architecture, as well as his passion for design. At no point in the conversation did his 83 years of life seem to weigh upon him. His voice, his eyes, the excitement in sharing thoughts and ideas was that of a young man, full of “piss and vinegar” and ready to take on the world.

He shared with me that he was a paradox in his life. On one hand he had just released a new book on his life and works and on the other he was just about to unveil a new collection for Pucci in New York. Here he was at an age when most—if not all—of his contemporizes were either retired or dead, and he was still creating new products for a new generation.

As a practitioner of sustainable design, I asked Vladimir his thoughts in this regard. He become very serious and quiet as he thought. After a minute or so, he said, ”You wont like this, but my new collection for Pucci has a fiberglass foundation…not very green.” In almost the same breath he went on to say, “Sustainability is more than materials; it is about longevity, but mostly it is about design. If something is designed well, it will be kept and used for years, if not generations.”

As he left the dinner for another party, I reflected on the evening and felt a little starstruck and very pleased that my boyhood adoration for my hero had not been diminished by meeting him. As we stood together for a press photo, he shook my hand and said to me as turned to leave, “Keep designing.” As I released his hand, I realized that giants are very real and they still walk amongst us.—Kevin Henry

Jul 26 2010

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Poetry in the details

michelle kaufmann ke#8AC51C
I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of the best living architects, Kengo Kuma. His work has such a simple elegance, using modest materials in unique ways to create spatial poetry. Whether it be using bamboo structurally while it feels like it disappears, stone panels that seem to float, ephemeral structures using blow-up walls with integrated LED lights, or angled stone that provides strength as well as natural ventilation.

Rather than being dependent on technology, his work is a wonderful example of sustainable architecture that implements the best strategies from the past.

Great Bamboo Wall House

Great Bamboo Wall House

Inn at Ganzan Onsen (hot springs) district of Yamagata

Inn at Ganzan Onsen (hot springs) district of Yamagata

Chokkura Plaza in Shioya-gun, Tochigi

Chokkura Plaza in Shioya-gun, Tochigi

Chokkkura Plaza in Shioya-gun, Tochigi

Chokkkura Plaza in Shioya-gun, Tochigi

michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 2d
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 3
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 4
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 5
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 7
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 8a
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 9a teahouse

Tea House in Frankfurt

Tea House in Frankfurt

michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 10 lotus
michelle kaufmann kengo kuma 6
Michelle Kaufmann