Tim Barber House & Home | Blog | The Interior Designer Series: Joe Luc | To get the inside scoop on hiring and working with an interior designer, we asked our good friend and uber-talented LA Designer, Joe Lucas , to sit...

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The Interior Designer Series: Joe Lucas
12.22.15

To get the inside scoop on hiring and working with an interior designer, we asked our good friend and uber-talented LA Designer, Joe Lucas, to sit down with us at Harbinger, his eclectic West Hollywood showroom. For Part I of this series we asked Joe for some tips on choosing and working with an Interior Designer.  

Choosing An Interior Designer: Joe Lucas - Lucas Design

When should you get a designer on your team?

According to Joe, as early as possible! He recommends getting your plans to a designer before you start the building process. Your designer will review your house plan and begin to think about furniture layout, window treatments, lighting and general flow. If you begin building before reflecting on these elements you may find your grandmother’s credenza won’t fit anywhere in the dining room. An interior designer can spot issues instantly and you’d rather learn them before construction has begun.

Personality is important.

The process is a collaboration after all, so the personality of your interior designer and the creative “chemistry” between you both will be a significant determining factor. The interior design process is an intimate one. To design well for both aesthetics and function, your designer needs to know how you live, whether you fold your jeans or hang them up, or how you prefer your dresser drawers be organized. Needless to say, it is as important that you have a good rapport and are comfortable getting personal with your designer. So take notice if your conversation is easy.

Choosing An Interior Designer: Joe Lucas - Lucas Design

So is confidence.

One of the most important traits you want in an interior designer to have is confidence. Yes, this is a collaboration, but you are hiring them because they are the expert in design. If a designer defers to your opinion more often than their own, you do not have a confident interior designer. Your designer should respect your opinion but be the voice of design authority on the project.

Ask to see recent work.

When you meet with a prospective designer, ask to see photos of projects not yet on their website. As a rule of thumb in this internet age, most magazines will not publish an interior project if its photos have already been posted on a website. If a designer has work with photographs awaiting publication, they will be able to show you those photos in person, so be sure to ask.

Choosing An Interior Designer: Joe Lucas - Lucas Design

Ask about their experience.

Experience is more important than where they went to school or to what organizations they belong. What designers learn in school is technique - which is important- but you either have an eye for design or you don’t. Talent can’t be taught. Some of the best designers learned by doing, not by studying. Ask a prospective designer about their prior employment and for how long they worked. Ask them what position they held in the firm and what their responsibilities were on design projects. You will learn more about their specific abilities from that line of questioning.  After that initial meeting, if you are thinking they might be the designer for you, you have some homework to do.

Call their references.

It is important to understand how a designer runs his/her projects. The best way to do that is to speak with a recent client. So ask the designer for a list of client references and try to speak with them via phone. Be sure to ask them if the designer was effective in keeping to a budget. Did the project come in on time? What was the designer like to work with? collaborative? attentive? fun? What was the best thing about working with the designer? What was the worst? And, of course, you want to know if they are happy with the finished product.

Choosing An Interior Designer: Joe Lucas - Lucas Design

Ask to see a few of their projects.

You don’t want to do this with every designer you meet.  It is asking a lot to tour a client’s home. So make that request once you have narrowed your search down to two or three designers. On your walk-through, ask the designer what the biggest challenges were in designing the space and how they addressed those challenges. What were the client’s requirements? Did the designer incorporate existing furniture and accessories or was everything specified by the designer? It is very helpful to get the answers to these questions while you are walking through the space.

Purveyor of his showroom, Harbinger, in LA’s La Cienega Design Quarter, Joe is one of LA’s most sought-out designers. After years with designer Michael Smith (yes, the same Michael Smith who did the White House for the Obamas), Joe formed Lucas Studio, Inc. and opened his own shop where he showcases his designs and curates his favorite furnishings, lighting, fabrics, wallpaper, rugs, carpets and accessories. Enjoy Joe's work featured in this post.