An interior designer’s up-to-date knowledge of construction, industry standards, and design trends is only useful when paired with a deep understanding of the client they are working with. Whether it’s a commercial project or a residential remodel, a respect for the context and the client are key.

In this series of articles, we’ve explored the importance (and the art) of gathering a client’s preference for line, pattern, repetition, space, depth, color, textures, etc. The experience of learning what lights a client up is a rewarding experience for all involved. Along the same lines, as a designer learns what a client does day to day, a better picture of the person–and their ideal space–takes shape.

As a designer gets to know a client’s likes and dislikes, learning how people in a space will work together is vitally important. Maybe a couple is having a new home built and wants a designer to help them bring it to the next level. An expert interior designer like Lori Wiles learns how each client spends time, what they like to do independently and together, or how they prepare for their day. In commercial spaces, a designer must know how people will move through it, where they will sit and stand, wait, come together or need privacy. These considerations affect all aspects of design like what kind of structures are built or modified, what materials, colors, and finishes are used, and where furniture is placed.

These are important ways an expert designer knows the people she’s working for. Understanding a client isn’t just crucial for a good design, though, it’s the key to a great experience when things could otherwise go south.

A good interior designer respects boundaries; instead of convincing a client to try things that are uncomfortable, Lori Wiles explains that some clients have non-negotiable considerations, like a favorite chair that has to stay in a certain spot. There’s a difference between getting a client to consider something they didn’t think possible and pushing them to try something that’s just not a good fit. An expert designer knows and respects those lines.

Some clients are working within strict limitations like a set budget. Maybe they value a designer’s expertise but can’t take advantage of all the services available. Lori works with clients and guides them to resources to make their own decisions, saving money in the design process. “Instead of giving a client a list of the three faucets that I think will work best, I teach them how to make those decisions themselves.”

When conflict arises, having a relationship with an experienced and skilled interior designer can make all the difference. Disagreement can occur between a couple, between the client and a contractor, or even the client and the designer. Having a designer who knows you, how you work, your lifestyle, opinions, and preferences helps smooth over even the most potentially contentious situations. Lori has experience resolving–or more often avoiding–conflict through respect. She cares about the people she’s working for. “Clients ask me, “How do you know what I want?”” Lori says. “I tell them, “I listen.””