Tuesday - May 12, 2015

A Friend as a Client : The Buddy System


The first time I contemplated doing a project for a friend, I received a dose of well meant warnings: “Don’t do it – whatever you gain won’t be worth it when you lose a friend.” This applies to any industry – be it design, finance or real estate. “You need to draw a line”. Work and friendship just don’t mix. And when they do, they just don’t end as happily as we dream they would.

But how do you really turn your back from a friend ? When the main reason they run to you is precisely because you, as a friend, know them, understand them and will dole out more patience and flexibility more than any other professional would.

There is some truth to the warning. There have been projects that challenged dear friendships but there have also been projects that did just the opposite. Most of them deepened and inspired me to the core. Most clients do. But when you work with somebody whose daughter is your godchild, whose mobile number is in the top 5 of in your phone’s Favorites and you actually know by memory because you’ve gone way long before the iPhone generation, it is an intense commitment. Because, in a sense, you never walk away from the project. You will visit it, see it, hear of it all the time, and who knows, tear it down and start all over again in a few years.

This article from the May 2015 issue of Elle Decor reminds me of the good experiences I have had working with a friend and client. When Jason Rand asks his best friend from his teenage years to work on his Manhattan apartment it was a way to rediscover each other, after the many years and distance when Alexandra Loew, his designer friend moved to L.A..


The result is an amalgam of Jason’s treasured collection: things that were all disparate were united in a space that reflected his travels and his passion, in the limited Manhattan apartment that had no wall or floor space spared. But with every thing in a place where it “glittered”. Some people do not have an appreciation for collected objects. There are those who subscribe to the minimal. There are some who prefer the DIY look. I appreciate Jason Rand’s approach to design as everything he brings into his space has meaning and a story. Not everyone recognizes this as smart: I know because my home was recently featured in Curbed’s website and I have read comments that express that.

Our homes are personal areas –  our cocoons that provide us a sense of safety and satisfaction. To say that a design aspect works or is a mistake is not anyone’s right but the homeowner’s. Design is a tool for better living. And only the homeowner makes that judgment.


I have a 100% commitment to all my clients but to have a friend come to me as a design professional, that trust and respect is worth protecting and with mutual trust and respect, great expectations are met that forge deeper friendships.


From “The Buddy System”, Elle Decor, May 2015, pages 190-195

Photography by Simon Upton

Produced by Robert Rufino

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