Jason Lai is the owner and principal designer of JL Interiors, an LA-based interior design studio specialising in residential interiors.
It all starts with a picture
For Jason, an image says a thousand words. That explains why the first task Jason sets new clients is to collect imagery of things they like and, perhaps more importantly, things they dislike.
Finding the time
If clients are stuck (or don't have the time), Jason will lend a helping hand but he never starts a project before going over inspiration images with clients.
"I never allow my clients to tell me 'I trust you' or 'do whatever you think is best' because 8 out of 10 times that process will take longer."
Jason uses the collated images to assess the client's tastes. He'll ask, "Do you like the overall vibe? The colour scheme? A specific piece of furniture? The layout?" or the hardest question of all, "why don't you like it?"
Seeing eye-to-eye (literally)
These meetings are usually conducted face-to-face. Jason's mantra is that client compatibility is key and in-person interactions are essential to that. "Clients hired me for a reason. It's my job to give them their dream and tell their story. Every expert will tell you that without face-to-face interactions it just seems cold in this creative industry."
When, and only when, everybody has had their say and everything is crystal clear—the design begins.
Even with all the images in the world, some things are still best expressed in words. How does Jason ensure he builds a crystal clear vision of his client's desires every time?
We challenged Jason to dig deep into a client's unique personality and uncover their deepest goals and drivers—if he only had 5(-ish) questions to work with...
- ... Is your budget?
This is the most important question because it tells me where I need to stop and what I should expect from the client's goals.
- ...Is your aesthetic?
The second most important question, for obvious reasons.
When... do you want this project to be done?
It is important to be truthful to your clients. I want to give clients a realistic timeline so they know what to expect—I won't just tell them what they want to hear.
Why... are you hiring an interior designer?
And then, do you trust your designer? A lot of the time clients second guess me because they can't see the full picture; it's my job to hold their hands and let them know everything will be okay. The vision is in my head and this is why they hired me—if not, they would just have done it themselves.
Who... is the decision-maker?
When dealing with a couple, it's good to know who makes decisions.
Where... is the job?
Probably the most important question on the list—practicalities!
How... do you see yourself using the space?
Are you trying to get more seating for entertainment? Do you even entertain?