November 18, 2011:

Design By Committee…

aka Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen.

I've worked with Design Committees before. Simply put, they are work - though I have had some fabulous experiences with a few so it is possible to overcome the difficulties. However, it can be a traumatic experience  -especially for the creative mind in the collaboration. Trying to satisfy multiple needs/wants/neurotic tendencies it's exhausting. What's worse - the secret committee. The secret committee can be comprised of a hidden CEO who actually makes or approves all decisions. That's tricky because you are totally blind to the needs/wants/budget buttons that need to be hit in order to have a successful project. There is also the secret committee confidante. This person is an influencer of the decision maker. The confidante is often a wild card. No vested interest in the actual outcome of the project but a hidden agenda. The confidante often undermines the whole process & plants seeds of doubt, creates a rift and for what? Have you ever watched "Say Yes to the Dress?" I always cringe when the bride shows up with an entourage - which is our last committee type. This one isn't so secretive. Have you ever tried to make a presentation to a group of people aka The Entourage - all bent on influencing the decision maker? It's a circus at best. Stake Holders Only, 3rd Party Opinions need not apply.

There's a reason why many designers charge an up-charge for projects that will involve a Design Committee. A 25% surcharge in fact. Some days, I think it should be more like 50%.

So here's my free advice for the day: 

If you feel the need to involve others in the decisions that will make your house a home please step back and ask them why they are making the choices that they are when it comes to advising you and keep their input to a minimum. Keep in mind that you've hired or are hiring a design professional who has education, experience and an ability to synthesize a variety of needs/wants in your project. If you establish an us vs them dynamic with your design professional, you undermine your own project. Personally, my advice would be keep the influencers out of the process entirely. It's your home - not theirs.  You are running the risk of watering down your project, compromising on items that speak to you personally in favour of an idea/thought/whim that someone else has planted there vs one that has occurred naturally.  You are also making your design professional do more work, which WILL cost you more both financially and creatively. 

::Steps down off of soap box::