Avoiding Scary Design Lingo

As the newest assistant at RWI I’m having fun learning the difference between real-world design for clients and fake-world design for school projects. One of the differences that I’ve noticed is that clear communication is essential to a good design experience, and that rarely includes fancy-pants designer-talk.

what does "com" mean in interior design

With a year left of college studying for my interior design degree I am amazied at how often I see myself and my fellow students choose a design solution but be unable to articulate why it works. To cover our inexperience we start using designer-y buzzwords like “wayfinding,” “C.O.M.” and “bespoke”.

Now, to be fair, these are not bad words – design lingo has its place. But one of the things I love about working at RWI is that Rebecca tries hard to avoid design lingo when talking to our clients – she knows it often impedes good communication. Instead she shares ideas and styles through plain language and visuals and always returns to the client’s original vision for their space.

So here’s my confession: despite being on the RWI team for a little while, the other day I went off on a tangent talking to a friend about a mid-century modern table I loved, not realizing I had left them in the dust because “mid-century modern” wasn’t a term they had encountered before.

mid century coffee table

This moment with my friend was a perfect illustration of why Rebecca’s communication style is so important. It opens a dialogue about the design, rather than shutting someone down by throwing random lingo at them and making them feel dumb; exactly what I realized I had done to my friend (sorry pal!).

So here’s my point: If you find yourself working with a designer who seems to be trying to impress you with their fancy-pants vocabulary it might just be that (like me) they’ve forgotten that not everyone is fluent in design-speak. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say “Excuse me, what do you mean by “roman shade?”

Remember that it’s your home and your money and working with a designer should leave you feeling *more* empowered and able to make confident decisions about your home. Now that I’ve seen Rebecca at work I know this is a totally achievable goal.  I say we aim for uncluttered communication in every interaction, not just those involving home design!

May your home always be happy and your communication clear!

Sarah Ellen
Team Member at RWI

Hi! I’m Rebecca West.

I’m not your classic interior designer because, frankly, I don’t care if you buy a new sofa. I do care if your home supports your goals and feels like “you.” Remember, happy starts at home!


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