Interior Designer Sue Fisher, ranked as amongst the top 20 interior designers in the UK by The Telegraph, talks to us about her interior design business based in Kent that she has run for 27 years, her approach to design, frustrations and favourite projects.
I set up in 1991 so Fisher ID has been going for 27 years. It has gone through a few changes in that time, originally I worked from home, then had a shop and now am working from home again.
I take interior design very seriously with a huge attention paid to tiny details. I know this can also be a shortcoming as it is usually the case that some details get changed later in the design process and I put in a lot of detail at the front end.
My ideal type of client
My ideal clients are ones that place their trust in their interior designer and allow me to get on with the work. This is important as 90% of our work is high-end residential where I am dealing directly with the client although occasionally I work with a property developer or on an office project. I enjoy those enormously although it involves a lot of R and D as the relevant suppliers are less known to me and also the regulations are different. I like a challenge and enjoy it very much. Overall I am very happy with my current type of clients.
I recently did in fact walk away from a project as I felt that the client was not giving my proposals sufficient attention and instead taking recommendations from their neighbour! I relinquished all claim to fees and felt happy that I had done the right thing and let go of a project where the design process was not receiving the respect it needed for a successful outcome.
My favourite project
This would be a large project I did in Winnington Road in Hampstead. The challenge was that I was taking over from another interior designer whose team had already been on the job for one or two years. It was a new build so the bones of the building had been decided and the direction of the interior architecture also already determined – so basically it was half done. It was a challenge getting into the mindset of the previous designers and understanding what had been done and making it work from there. The budgets were incredible, not for me as I was on a fixed fee, but sufficient to allow me to engage with fantastic craftsmen in timber, stone and glass. It was a delight as I could really explore the creative resources available as the budget allowed me to do so, this happens decreasingly often as time goes on I find.
Common frustrations as a professional interior designer
I am finding that although clients are more design-conscious these days they are less willing to be original and innovative in their interiors. Often I have to reverse-design, i.e. make a space look like something the client has already seen. My frustration with this is that it is not innovative – there is no faith put into the budget as the clients want something that is already proven – for example something they have seen in Vogue or a hotel or online or their friends’ houses. In the old days there was less information available so clients were forced to be more “out there” with their thinking.
I have however started to be firmer in putting forward ideas and encouraging clients to be braver, as I am being myself in putting forward these ideas in a more definite way!
Clients also often want something formulaic and are also are often crippled by indecision. Fear of missing out on certainly applies in interior design, for example in wanting the “latest thing”. However some times a project takes three years to complete so by the time it is finished they have missed out as the latest thing is already outmoded.
Sometimes clients will be incredibly indecisive , for example over room layouts and I often prepare up to six versions ony for them to return to the first one.
I have learnt over the years to deal with people better and I do trade-off parts of the house if there are two householders – i.e. some rooms will be more important to the husband and if he gets what he wants in those, the wife can have what she wants in her preferred rooms.
I do get plenty of enquiries and now I do not turn down enquiries now when I am busy but ask if they can wait so I always have a bank of work, a fortunate position to be in.
Being part of a community – or not
I operate as an interior designer in a world of my own but that has been my own – albeit not conscious choice – I work very long hours and do not have the available time or energy to go to networking events. However I do go to trade shows such as Focus in Chelsea Harbour, London Design Week in September, Decorex and Clerkenwell Design Week. I also go to London’s Masterpiece Art Fair purely to be with beautiful things. I usually go to Maison Objet and am aiming to go to also Milan Design Week next year.