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Fri 4 Feb 2011 12:00 AM

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Calling a truce

In this month’s Designer’s Choice, we asked a selection of industry experts to name their favourite-ever space.

Calling a truce
Calling a truce

In this month’s Designer’s Choice, we asked a selection of industry experts to name their favourite-ever space. One designer came back with the Sistine Chapel, citing the sheer magnitude of creative genius required to complete a project of such intricacy and scale.

In their eyes, the Sistine Chapel was also a masterful culmination of the imagination of the artist and the craftsmanship of the artisans. In modern terms: a seamless partnership between designer and contractor.

In this day and age, the idea of such a harmonious relationship between a designer and a contractor is as astonishing as Michelangelo’s achievements must have seemed at the time. Certainly, you would be hard pressed to find any modern-day designer who views the common contractor as a craftsman.

One imagines those 16th century artists and artisans working together, year after year, on one of the world’s great interiors – and can only assume that they didn’t spend their time warring over design integrity or contractual disputes.

Fast forward a few centuries and things are a very different. Today, the relationship between contractor and designer is scarred by mounting frustration and mutual distrust. Contractors complain about designers creating unrealistic, unsustainable designs that cannot reasonably be translated into reality. They bemoan the designer’s general disregard for budgetary constraints, time lines and gravity. All the while, designers accuse contractors of bastardising their designs, and engineering all creative value out of their art.

On both sides, there is a tendency to focus on shortcomings and perceived grievances. Neither party seems willing to consider the challenges that the other faces. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but it is incredibly damaging for the industry as a whole.

Selina Denman is the editor of Commercial Interior Design.

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