Monday, December 3, 2007

Sympathizing with the Shoe-maker

We all know the story about the shoe maker whose kids had no shoes. Sounds stupid until you give it some thought. If the guy can make shoes why would he have his kids running around with ill-fitting or torn shoes? But then there is the cabinet-maker whose own kitchen dates back nearly 40 years. There is the psychologist who has major issues in her personal life. The chef often serves store-bought frozen foods to his own family...

And this interior designer refers to her own home as a "project-in-progress" to keep it sounding reasonable. The truth is, it is a series of things put together "for now" with ideas for what to do with varying degrees of thought put into them, varying levels of complexity, budgetary requirements, and some "what-ifs" thrown in for good measure.

From my point of view, there are three possible explanations for this:

A) we don't want to do for ourselves what we do (for pay) for others because either we can be making money doing the same for someone else or because we do it all day long and don't want to continue once we're on our own time;

B) we've gotten so used to working for a client that we cannot properly put ourselves into the position of client;

C) the grass is just always greener on the other side - our clients' projects are somehow more worthy and deserving.

People working in a creative industry have other traps that we fall into also. Attempting perfection is one of them, and another is that we don't necessarily want to have to look at our work (or perceived imperfections in our work) daily at home too. There have been numerous famous artists who have refused to hang their own art in their own homes. Or, as in the situation in my own kitchen, I see now that there are a few little things I should have done differently -- would never have done them this way had it been for someone else's kitchen (my house is, to some extent, my experimenting space) -- and changing it now would involve dismantling the whole kitchen. Who in their right mind would take apart a 2 year old kitchen and spend a few thousand dollars to correct a minor annoyance??

People hire accountants, interior designers, fashion designers (even if just by purchasing ready-made clothing), house painters, real estate agents, and countless others not because we cannot do our own taxes, plan our own renovations projects, determine our style preferences for clothing, paint our walls, or even sell our own homes. We hire people to do these things so that we don't have to assume the responsibility of doing it ourselves, so that our time can be spent doing other things, and so that hopeful these things will get done with fewer hitches and glitches.

As an interior designer, would I ever consider hiring another designer to do my own home? No way! I would be overly demanding, inhumanely critical, and a general nuisance of a client. That's why the shoe-maker couldn't take his children to his competition, why the cabinet-maker didn't call in another company for his own kitchen, and why my own home is still very much in a state of chaos. Oops, I meant to say a "project-in-progress."

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