The Myth Of Perfection

One of the worst parts of my job as a designer is to be the dream killer. Sometimes this happens when my client’s tastes exceed their budget, sometimes it’s the long lead times or the shock of shipping and handling fees, and sometimes it’s simply because what they want is impossible or doesn’t exist. I am here to tell you with 100% certainty that there is ALWAYS a tradeoff, and in the end, nothing is perfect.

When I worked in advertising we used to tell our clients, “There’s what you want, there’s when you want it, and there’s what you want to pay – pick two.” I’m afraid this mantra holds up in the world of design too. It seems I am always educating my clients on the why of things as I try to guide them to make good buying decisions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way it’s that the ones who are open-minded and can lean in, even surrender a little, always seem to be happier and are better able to weather the ups and downs that are inherent in every design project. It’s also no coincidence that these projects are the ones that wind up in my portfolio since open-mindedness, surrender and the ability to embrace a happy accident are key stops on the way to good design.

Some people find it easier to let go of perfection while others have firmly subscribed to the myth and will never stop trying. The funny thing about perfection though is that the more you want it, the more elusive it becomes and the more shit seems to go wrong. It’s like some existential smackdown from the universe reminding you that you’re out of your league and oh, by the way, you need to be more grateful for what you’ve got you imperfect little dust speck. The universe doesn’t like heavy demands and in my experience, it always seems to reward the patient, the tolerant, the easy-going. And yet, while my easy breezy clients are the ones who can handle it when things going wrong, their projects seem to come together painlessly and with lots of serendipitous magic. Coincidence? Hmmm.

When you’re thinking about tackling a design project it’s best to prepare yourself. I assure you that there will be compromises, delays, mistakes, near-misses and all-around disappointments. They are, unfortunately, an inevitable part of the process. But it doesn’t have to be soul crushing, and it definitely doesn’t mean that your home will be less than. It’s all about your mindset. And the ability to get your zen on and roll with it is key. I like to believe that for every moment of agony, there’s a well-earned victory, and since there’s never one right answer, the universe might just be telling you that a better sofa/table/rug is right around the corner. All you have to do is cancel your subscription to the myth of perfection and go with the flow.

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