I have just visited a lodge with the look at undertaking the refurbishment. I am very open minded when it comes to looking at design, and appreciate good quality design when I see it, but boy do I get annoyed when I see that designers have used totally inappropriate products in spaces.
Here is an example. In a high traffic cafe they have used a timber veneer floor board. It hasn’t withstood the high foot traffic and now looks disgusting, it cannot be sanded back and refinished like solid timber floor boards and to replace it with timber floor boards, the timber would have to sit in the space for at least a month to acclimatise to the environment before it can be laid. This will definitely not work, as the business has to keep functioning. That was mistake number one.
Mistake number two, using a paper wallpaper in the rest rooms. It has a lovely design, but you can just imagine what it looks like around the wet areas, basically there is no paper there anymore and where horizontal surfaces are cleaned all the time like basins and shelves, the adjacent wallpaper has rubbed off. A few areas have large gauges out of them, the wallpaper does not protect the walls at all. This was definitely not a suitable finish for a commercial rest room.
So, my lesson here today is the importance of research in design. It is crucial that you understand the products you specify. Obviously we don’t expect finishes to last forever, but we can make sure we get as much out of them as we can and that the interior stays in good shape for as long as possible, especially in commercial circumstances.
Don’t be fooled by something that looks pretty! Get down and dirty and find out the specifications of it. See if the company can let you know of where it has been installed, you could go and have a look and see what it looks like over time, or get a testimonial from some of their clients.
Over time you will soon get to know which products are quality and which you need to steer clear of, but until then you really need to make sure you research each item you are putting into your design and make sure it is appropriate.
I am not saying everything has to be the highest quality and highest price, sometimes we have projects that are designed for a short period of time, and you can use good looking, low budget material sand finishes, as that is what the client brief demands, but if you need to have something that will last more than five years then you really need to read the fine print!
I hope this reminds you for the next time you see the latest and greatest design product. Don’t just jump on the band wagon because it is new, take it for a test drive first!