The Architecture of Professionalism
I recently had a very interesting conversation with a design colleague regarding certain dispensary businesses in Colorado. I will leave that at that. But the conversation led me to start considering what interior designers bring to spaces that is not just aesthetic appeal, not just space planning or spatially related, but an architecture of Professionalism.
To digress for a moment, one of my husband’s favorite places to eat is a tiny little strip mall, hole-in-the-wall Pho place. We love this joint and would argue there is no place to equal it in terms of Pho for miles. But it is a hole-in-the-wall. The tables and booth are beat up utilitarian pieces, the bathroom is a little frightening (better avoided) and while the kitchen produces some of the most amazing food ever there is something to be desired. It is family business in terms of being a little slap-dash and the interiors are put together a little haphazardly. This in no way changes the fact that they are well known for what they do well and the repeat clientele proves it. I’m in no way suggesting they change anything there!
But, what would this place be like if it looked, really looked, like a professional restaurant owner and operated by a serious restauranteur? If that hole-in-the-wall face that belies the greatness of the cooking were brought to match the quality found within, how many more people would be enticed to enter? How would their business change? Perhaps I choose a bad example, because the hole-in-the-wall with amazing food is its own archetype, but I think there’s something to be said for having the space receive a similar investment as the food. Making that investment in a look and functionality says something about the business behind the face and that’s the point I want to make.
Hiring a professional, any professional, to assist in a portion of your business practice says that you, as a business owner/stakeholder, care to see it done right and in concert with the message you want to send. Whether it be an IT professional, an accountant, or a designer these are people who are experienced in their professional arena and can guide you to make decisions that reflect the values of your business. In the case of a design professional, we take it one step further and translate those values into a form that your customers really SEE. It’s branding and marketing, this investment in how your space looks, and it tells other people something about your business. At the most basic level, the investment of a space implies the legitimacy of a business with overhead business expenses and taxes tied back to a space and its proprietors. What that space says is up to you and a design professional helps you make that decision in a mindful, meaningful way, rather than as an afterthought.
My family Pho business’s interiors say (once you’ve had the food) that they are more concerned with the kitchen and what comes out of it than anything else. That’s not a bad thing. But how many hungry potential clients have walked right by without a second thought because they just didn’t know better? An investment in the space shows people visually that there’s an investment in the business. Because we’re talking about a restaurant, that suggests to people there’s something great going on in the kitchen.
This was the same point my colleague was making about certain Colorado businesses. As these businesses cater to the healthcare industry they need to look the part. A designer is very much a part of that equation and differentiating them from their neighbors. When the services of a designer are considered in this light, they are not only providing physical space, but a sense of Professionalism and Legitimacy.