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Perfect Proposal

The Perils of Landing a Commercial Design Project


The strongest negotiating position is being able to walk away and mean it. – Unknown

Within the scope of commercial interior design, bidding for a project is like trying to win over a room full of skeptics with your charm and a PowerPoint presentation. It’s a delicate dance between impressing your potential clients and not giving away too many of your design secrets. Let’s take a humorous journey through the highs and lows of the bidding process.

The Initial Meeting:

You walk into the room, and there they are – 2 to 4 people with a laundry list of design problems that need solving. As they spill their workplace grievances, you nod your head, careful not to let slip any brilliant design ideas for free. After all, who wants to buy the cow when the milk is free? You leave the meeting with a head full of potential solutions and a poker face that would make a professional gambler jealous.

Crafting the Perfect Proposal:

Back at the office, you spend hours crafting the perfect proposal and crunching the numbers, aiming for that sweet spot between affordability and profitability. You want to impress without bankrupting yourself. You’re walking the tightrope of business acumen and design flair. It’s like preparing for a date where you hope the other person likes you enough to see past the fact that your favorite color is puce.

The Presentation to the Jury:

They call you back, but this time, it’s not just 2-4 people – it’s a full-blown committee of 8-10 decision-makers. You stand before them, feeling like a contestant on a design-themed reality show. You’re not sure if they’re genuinely considering your proposal or if they just needed someone to break up the monotony of their day. Nevertheless, you give it your all, presenting your proposal with flair and charisma, desperately trying to make them fall in love with your personality and knowledge.

The Waiting Game:

Now, you’re not just one of four designers; you’re in the top two choices! The waiting game begins, and it’s a nail-biter. If it takes them two months to decide on a design firm, you start wondering how long it’ll take to get actual designs approved. Panic sets in – did you estimate enough hours to compensate for your time? Designers don’t work for free, but they sure do worry a lot.

Dealing with Condo and HOA Boards:

The struggle intensifies when dealing with condo and HOA boards. You spin your wheels trying to navigate the bureaucracy, all while ensuring you price yourself right. It’s a delicate balance between securing the project and avoiding financial disaster. You’ve learned the hard way not to give out expert ideas for free, no matter how badly you want the job.

The Lobby Sketch Mishap:

In a moment of desperation, you once sketched a lobby for a high-rise before a signed contract. Turns out, they didn’t even have the budget for the renovation! Lesson learned: never put pen to paper without a firm commitment. It’s a classic case of putting the cart before the horse and realizing the horse was actually a unicorn with an imaginary budget.

The bidding process for a commercial design project is a rollercoaster of emotions, from initial meetings to boardroom presentations and the agonizing waiting game. Price yourself right, resist the urge to give away too much for free, and always remember – designers may be artists, but they’re not in the business of working for free.


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What is Designer's Corner?


In this blog, tutorials, business advice, and shared experiences merge to guide the path for aspiring interior designers. The author, a seasoned interior designer with over two decades of experience in transforming spaces has encountered a myriad of clients, each with their unique quirks and peculiar requests. Here, the tutorials offer invaluable insights into the craft, while business advice extends a guiding hand to novices. Yet, it's the Designer's Corner where the past informs the present, and the future of design is shaped with every shared story. Embracing the industry's lighter facets, anecdotes are shared, and the occasional absurdity is met with laughter, fostering a community where designers find solace and wisdom in the collective journey. Whether you're a designer seeking affirmation, a client looking to hire, or navigating your own renovation project, this space can be a guide.