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SOURCE: Cuoco Black Commercial and Residential Interior Design
One of the hallmarks of a competent design professional is his/her commitment to a philosophy of client profits first followed by a best practice policy which assists the owner in saving money and generating profit. As an example, when a client takes over a new space, it would be logical to assume that retaining the existing architectural, mechanical and structural features would provide substantial savings to the owner; however, often enough, such savings are sacrificed in the game of “Best Design vs. Best Savings”. Interior Designer Cuoco Black, a former faculty member of the New York School of Interior Design has argued that designers must have a paradigm shift if they wish to honestly embrace the needs of the client over the need to facilitate their personal creative agenda. After all, the client has endorsed the designer by agreeing to retain them…the designer should reciprocate this trust by employing design measures which illustrate their commitment to the fiduciary needs of the owner.
New York City & Miami, FL (PRWEB) November 27, 2012
Interior designer Cuoco Black had been asked to travel to Tennessee to survey the home of a well-to-do Wall Street broker. Half way through the tour of the house they came upon a large second-tier bathroom in the lower level of the home. The owner sheepishly asked the designer for his thoughts concerning the dated existing wall and floor tile that decorated the large expanses of the room. Black responded that a simple stripping down of the existing finishes to the under-layment would be an easy enough make-over for the space resulting in an updated look and modest savings in construction. The owner turned to the designer and in the presence of colleagues and his spouse exclaimed that he was the only designer, of many, who had seen the home and suggested a simple fix rather than gutting the room to its ancestral framework.
I usually complement the architectural services of a design team says Cuoco Black and this issue is common in the commercial sphere as well. He has been asked on a number of occasions to review the proposed design ideas presented by competitive design teams for a new project. Black says there is a litany of potential savings to a client over the scope of work in an existing space. Perhaps..but not maliciously he says, he sees efforts to remove existing plumbing, mechanical and structural features which express purpose is to strip the room to a negative volume. As a designer I am fully aware that this is an effort practiced by a design team to enable free reign for their design concepts... it’s a delicate balance, says the designer, politically and ethically speaking I don’t make a practice of usurping a design colleague’s creative gestures. The client however has retained me for my expertise on dealing with the interior landscape, when the dust settles…I can usually save them substantially over the replacement costs of these trades. In addition, a skilled designer can thread the needle and tie existing conditions into the new design; it requires however a paradigm shift from design first, to client savings first.
Another example was Black's design for the Mid City Gym in New York City, a concept that was inspired by the film Terminator 2 Judgment Day. The existing space was in the lower level of a Manhattan skyscraper and the entire area: floors, walls and ceilings were a gray sea of structural cement slabs and concrete block.... the utilitarian composite of the building structure. Rather than spending money to frame walls with sheetrock and drop in a suspended ceiling the designer tied the futuristic design theme, the Brand, to the existing interior finishes and left all the concrete exposed. Employing a design technique of contrast he specified futuristic metallic cobalt blue and orange floor tiles that morphed throughout the space flowing over floors, furniture, accent walls and ceiling ducts. The result was a dead-on-theatrical-target-brand that captured the energy of the Times Square neighborhood. Vince Consalvo, the gym owner says..."Cuoco helped me with design ideas like that, he really understood how to keep the contractor under reign and reduce my costs".
Black additionally employs other design techniques which efforts are directed to saving the client in the realm of new construction. I evoke my 80-20 rule says designer Black. Theoretically speaking an effort is made to direct a greater portion of the expendable budget on exterior, entry and reception areas as an enticement of what lies beyond. The specification of precious design finishes and special features should be exploited in these areas, hence…consuming a greater proportional percentage of the overall budget. The remaining space absorbs the remaining budget. Black notes that this is not always the case. It’s not in a designer’s best interest to explore these options; after all, a designer’s portfolio is best served with images illustrating the amazing design features they specified throughout an entire space, albeit of the owners costs associated with producing the same. Black says that it is unnecessary to snowball greater design features into a space and the costs associated with it. The designer says there are thousands of marginally priced products in the marketplace and a truly skilled designer can create drama and excitement with simple tools, techniques and cross-technologies without specifying high end products to embellish the design. Morally it’s not necessarily a best practice...as a fiduciary responsibility to the client he believes it to be derelict.
Finally there is the Brand says Black. All these previous efforts, savings in construction, the 80-20 rule, necessitate an effort to back-link to a branded design concept that defines the enterprise. Black dismisses the Boutique Design aesthetic which he says undermines an enterprises marketing platform. The Boutique Design trend is exactly that, a trend, and the aesthetic says absolutely nothing about an enterprises Brand or offering. If entrepreneurs want to hedge their bets for future profit and marketplace dominance....they should be thinking about their unique Brand, not a trend aesthetic. Think stage sets, drama, entertainment...again touch the public’s emotions: seduce, romance, captivate and mystify them.....but it all has to be a laser accurate interpretation of the owner’s vision and business model.
About Cuoco Black
Cuoco Black is a former faculty member of the New York School of Interior Design from which he holds a BFA with Distinction and Professional Design Diploma.
He believes the art of interior design has been lost to the Boutique Design aesthetic and designs according to natural rhythms which reflect the spirit and personality of his clients... their Brand. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Bloomberg.com, Bravo.com, FoodandWine.com, and Elle Décor FR. His design for the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris France has garnered his clients a “Best Bars in the World Ranking” by FoodandWine.com.
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