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Interiors & Sources just introduced a new feature blog written by “Debbie Designer” that is dedicated to calling out bad design in the world. It’s a great idea, on the whole, but I’ve got some issues with how it is presented. “Debbie” leads off with a scathing commentary about Kelly Wearstler.

While I am really not a fan of Kelly Wearstler’s, and quite agree that there’s a lot of bad design out in the world in general, much of which is getting a lot of press due to better marketing than many of the truly best designers do, I can’t agree that there’s anything inherently wrong with promoting one’s own self, products, and business, no matter how dreadful others may think it is. It would be nice on one level if we could all live in a society where everything was tastefully designed, but a) we live in a free country and everyone has the right to their own preferences – and professions, b) who would get to decide what is good and what isn’t?, and c) how boring life would be if everything were always perfect, and there was no room for differences in taste!

Frankly, I’m surprised that magazine of I&S’s caliber is putting up a feature with this nasty an edge. Yes, we all snark about others at times, but whatever happened to common courtesy? And how is an attack of this nature useful to anyone?

The reason there is bad design is because not everyone trying to do it is equally talented. And not everyone hiring bad designers knows the difference. It really is all about marketing, in the end – and the fact that many people just don’t have good taste, and/or have never been exposed to anything better, or learned the differences. There’s no great mystery or sociological higher reason why we “allow” bad design to exist – and allow bad designers to stay in business. The reality is that neither of these is anyone else’s call, other than the parties directly involved in the transactions and projects.

If you want to talk about bad design, I’d suggest that it would be far more productive, useful, mature, and *professional* to do it as a proper critique of exactly what does and does not work about a particular object, space, or body of work. It would not only provide more useful content to designers, particularly those at the start of their careers, but it would frankly look better to the public who stumble in there as well. Their perception of designers as nasty, stuck up, and unreasonably demanding is bad enough, and is already fed by many sources. Let’s not make it worse in professional publications like this.

There’s plenty of room for snark in that kind of presentation as well, but I’d like to see things kept basically respectful – and educational, at least the post put up by the magazine. Please see James Swan’s hilarious “100 Things I Hate About Your House” on Facebook for some superb examples in which both humor, snark, and real education and professional discussion merge beautifully. When he snarks, it actually is funny. This post, unfortunately was not.

It’s also one thing for commenters to snark in their responses, but quite another for someone representing a major professional magazine to do so in his or her original posts.

I also find it quite disturbing that this new feature is written by someone who isn’t putting her own name on the line, who is unwilling to own her own words publicly. It’s obvious why – and in my opinion, it’s extremely cowardly and unprofessional. For shame, I&S. You’ve just gone way downhill in my estimation.

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What do you all think of vendors who want you to pay for their product catalogues and specification binders?

I can see charging the general public, who will likely only order one or two pieces in their entire lifetimes, but it’s foolish, in my opinion, to charge interior designers, since we are likely to use your line over and over again. I simply won’t pay for catalogues, no matter how much I like the line. There are zillions of excellent products out there; I can easily find something else.

Product catalogues are part of a company’s marketing materials, and thus, the production of them and costs of sending them out should be part of their marketing budget, one of the many costs of doing business that every company has that can’t be billed to anyone. The product lines with which I work are high end, so the manufacturers ought to be able to cover those expenses for product binders. It’s certainly fair game to ask for a resale number first, if they want, but for heaven’s sake, we designers need the product information handy if they want us to specify their goods, especially if they are not represented anywhere locally. They make money from us – if they give us the means to do buy from them and make it easy. I will never understand why some of these companies make it so hard for us to sell their stuff.

Needless to say, I’m not going to name company names here – but I’m looking for lines to replace these with who want my business enough to actually make it easy for me to give it to them.

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