Thursday, January 7, 2010

“It almost seems like I owe you — and I don’t.”


“The client usually begins by pointing out things that they like,” Mr. Mishaan said. “It almost seems like I owe you — and I don’t.”

Mr. Logozzo, furious, sat in stony silence, barely making eye contact.

Mr. Mishaan proceeded to give a detailed explanation for every change that had been made, and for why he had opted not to make others.


Oh. No. He. Didn't.


You must read THIS design drama.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not entirely accurate. Insider info. Trust me. Apartment looks good though.

Decorno said...

Then we need some details, Insider.

R said...

I love your new Designers Run Amuk series.

Denise Smith said...

Moral to the story. Communication is key. Television is not real, so don't expect hiring a designer to be like a show on HGTV.

Anonymous said...

The " - and I don't" quote probably refers to Mishaan offering his design services gratis. Unfortunately, he and his flaky assistant effed up royally letting the client see it unfinished. 95% of the design comes together in the final delivery.

Anonymous said...

So coy, so HGTV, the way the client would come home to a big wonderful "surprise" (his words, according to the interactive-feature audio clip).

Lesson: BE THERE to approve the selections. BE THERE for the installations. Don't try to turn the process into a cutesy TV makeover show.

PS: You get a big-shot decorator and 90 percent of the purchases are from West Elm?

Anonymous said...

The photos don't seem to match the narrative even when the designer agreed to complete the project appropriately.

boops said...

oh my...this is much better than Bravo....

Anonymous said...

So using both yellow and gray is OK? I've been mulling this one over for awhile. I have a yellow sofa and want gray-ish walls, but wasn't sure...

MoreSkinnyDays said...

This seems like a case of an assistant missing a deadline due to personal problems and a designer who doesn't oversee assistants well. Isn't there usually a design board thingy that goes with this? Floors are terrible and getting everything from West Elm is not too creative. Still, I will be visiting West Elm today to look at window coverings.

Diann said...

Cough the details, Insider.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Yellow and grey are beautiful together, Anonymous. The right tones that is.

Anonymous said...

The best pieces--and the only vintage pieces--are the dining set and the breakfront. And both were supplied by the client, not the decorator.

David said...

I think I'd be more comfortable just having painting and construction (if any) done while I was away, and then staying at a hotel while working with the designer to finish the space.

Asking to be surprised just doesn't seem like a good idea.

Anonymous said...

See, I think the guy sounds like he's pretty adventurous/laid back/doesn't obsess about his space (otherwise he'd probably have more than two pieces of furniture), and thus was up for the excitement and surprise of trying something like this, especially since they seemed to have similar sensibilities. He also probably didn't want to leave a war zone to come back to a bunch of design duties, and coordinating from Afghanistan is asking a bit much. I think he told them when he was going to be home and was expecting, at most, maybe throw pillows that were missing, not an empty space. The designer sounds like someone who didn't take this project too seriously (maybe because it was pro bono?), hence the huge lapse in overseeing the assistant and buying stuff only from chain stores.

Decorno, what do you think about the wall shelf with galleries of pictures on it? I think it looks a little too clumped/clustered (but then I also like the sort of 19th century crowded-wall salon effect), but it does seem a nice way to be able to switch smaller pieces in and out.

Henrietta said...

"It almost seems like I owe you--and I don't."

How about "I apologize and promise to make it right."

katiedid said...

Granted, the designer should have been much more diplomatic and he even had an extra couple of days to pull it off since the client was late. Yes, the assistant got her due.
BUT....the client got the design FOR FREE. Ya get what you pay for: less service, less effort, less creativity.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:33 PM,

To me, he sounded like a guy with strong feelings about what he wanted and didn't want. And that's a mighty small apartment, so how grueling could that "bunch of design duties" have been? Approve one sofa, one pair of curtains, two picture shelves, an end table.

I think he should have sacrificed the surprise element and stuck around to keep an eye on things. And the decorator should have been more empathetic to his client's understandable distress.

Anonymous said...

Second the observations of Anon 12:27pm, David and Henrietta: it was imprudent to ask for a surprise and the designer dropped the ball.

Richard Mishaan has done himself no favors here; he comes off and cavalier, grandiose, unexamined, inattentive and rude. He agreed to work for free in exchange for national publicity. He should have worked as hard for Michael Logozzo as he would for a paying client.

Anyone looking to hire a decorator will read this and say: "Think I'll pass on Richard Mishaan."

Shauna said...

So, what I wanna know is when the NYT match makes you with a designer, are you told upfront you'll be dealing with the asst?

The designer effed up not being on it. No matter what the client's expectations were.

And while the designer congratulates himself on a good job (it's good, not great, looks a tad phoned in), he's an IDIOT FOR NOT REALIZING IT COULD HAVE BEEN A FREE AD FOR HIMSELF.

By the way, as much as I snored through the boring couple NYT
article yesterday, this series has been awesome!

Anonymous said...

katydid – if you mean that buyer should beware, and especially when you’re getting a crazy deal, I would wholeheartedly agree with you. If the homeowner found his “free” designer off of Craigslist, for example. That seems like a risk you take working with an amateur.

However, this well-known published designer offered his services for free. He chose to do this job. So it’s his responsibility to serve the client well, whether the client is paying or not. I don’t think he or his employees get a free pass to offer mediocre design or customer service just because the guy was getting the work for free. It’s irresponsible and it’s bad business. And in this case, it’s really idiotic public relations.

sketch42 said...

Wow. Designers can be cocky assholes sometimes. The place was ok. Nothing to write home about. Some people with a budget can only think "west elm" and use the restrictions as a time to shine!

Had he give that ten grand to someone else... say Nick Olsen or Eddie Ross, he probably would have walked into something truly unique.

sketch42 said...

Sorry meant to say "others use the restrictions as a time to shine"

Anonymous said...

Nothing about this story computes.

Why would you pick - as a "typical" Manhattanite in need of a budget decorating makeover - a 58-year-old single male who gets off on being in a war zone?

And why would a designer behave so badly when he knew it was all going to be in the Times?

And why would a Times editor devote a page and a half to covering a design disaster that happened only because the Times arranged it?

And finally, why is the Times arranging decorating makeovers at all? They should go out and find some design news. Like a newspaper.

Decorno said...

Anon 5:54 - AMEN.

Cote de Texas said...

i think it looks good too, but -
1. the client should have been informed immediately that the things he wanted could not be done to the radiator and the closet doors (though why those couldn't have been taken down and stored in the back of the closet and curtains hung instead is beyond me.) But major mistake by designer not to have informed him of these things - but client gave carte blanche - major mistake by client. draw.
2. client should have known way before that the apt. wasn't finished. decorator's error.
3. client can't give decorator carte blanche then bitch about colors and fabric - if you are going to bitch about that - you should NEVER let the decorator choose those - point in fact, he now likes the decor. client's error.
4. carpet ???? major mistake by decorator. dirty/ripped? WTF????? decorator's error.
5. decorator was out of town during a reveal that was going to be in the nYT? Is he serious? bad judgment. decorator's error.
6. totally underscores the need to have a job totally finished before the big reveal - major mistake by decorator.

so, both to blame on this one. but decorator's errors are greater and more than client's.
great story and a good lesson for both clients and decorators to learn from.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the shelves with the art collection. He needed Lauren from Pure Style Home to hang his collection studio style.

Anonymous said...

See! This is why I'm afraid of decorators! How do you find a decent one?

Anonymous said...

"Ya get what you pay for: less service, less effort, less creativity."

katiedid, that's idiotic.

If Mishaan intended to use the no-fee thing as an excuse for a spotty performance, he should have been open about that from the beginning. At the first meeting, he should have told the client: "Hey, I'm not getting paid, so I might do a poor-to-average job. I might be inattentive, and farm out most of the execution to a flakey, untrustworthy assistant."

Mishaan's 2nd mistake? His negligent work habits are now on display in the New York Times, for all the world to see.

When the Times got involved in putting this together, it put a patina of respectability on the transaction, so even though the client didn't pay, he must have figured:

1) "Big-time decorator who has his own book; MUST be good. He'll do a good job for me too."

2) "The NYT is putting this together and is going to publish the results: They must have an interest in making sure this comes out well."

Neither ended up happening. Yeah, the client should have been more attentive, but the decorator was the one with the experience and expertise in these jobs. He screwed up BAD.

little augury said...

A disaster in the making from the get go.A "LOOK BOOK" of a showhouse room with the budget for this job was a non starter. Knowing what something costs is huge in starting projects-Client-Designer get real- a good sofa costs $5000, something on Sale maybe half that-from there if it is good its stealing. Meetings should continue throughout the process, how about an email even. From a designer's point of view-the client went in with an unrealistic idea about the entire process. The mistake made by designer was leaving the kooky personal problems assistant in charge. I don't think Mishaan will likely have forfeited any work-especially in this price range. Projects rarely complete within the said day-deliveries don't come through. Berating a designer, or anyone, gets you nowhere-Trust Me.The client overreacted-obviously since the outcome pleased him. He should feel like a putz. The biggest mistake made-Honest to god-was those shelves- BAD.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing is lame and dishonest from the start.

Since when does The NYT have to advertise for stories? Aren't writers and editors paid to think & develop stories?

And what NY decorator is gonna do an apartment for ten grand? NO ONE - even in this economy.

Richard Mishaan is a rich boy - the club chairs he specs for his clients cost $10K. He's obviously also lazy and not going to win or retain clients after this fiasco.

The Home & Garden section of The Times is an embarrassment- and there are so many smart writers and editors looking for work. The paper of record can do better than this.

Penelope Bianchi said...

Hi! And here is my two cents!
My mother (who gave me the money to post the bond for my resale license in 1970)! Told me sternly!

"NEVER EVER EVER work for free! You will always work for friends......if they aren't when you start...they will be when you finish.

Never ever let anyone install anything anywhere you have ordered unless you are THERE!!!

Always make sure when you say something will be delivered on a date.........follow up....and if there is a delay (and there will be many!) Call and warn the client......and apologize. Stay connected and in communication."

This story almost made me cry.
However; I didn't cry.

The decorator made the biggest mistake. FREE?
(If you are doing that for publicity.....New York times......WOW!!) Then you put this job at the very top of your pile! Free major advertising!!!

Frankly.....it really was all the decorator's fault (in my opinion). No one works for free.....even if the NYTImes is covering it. DUH!! No excuse having an assistant having a nervous breakdown........he didn't check with her every morning? DUH! No one hires me and gets my assistant. (my assistant would tell me if suddenly she couldn't cope!)

If that had happened to me.......I swear I would have been there in tears.....paying for a suite at the Lowell......and apologizing.......This was all the decorator's fault. Every single thing. All of it. His fault. Curtains without hems? holes in the walls? rugs stained?
This is bad press for every decorator! How dare you???

I am glad the TImes published it. It was completely irresponsible of this man to promise.....not follow up......not check.....and have this guy come home to a disaster. Free or not!

It hurts all of us in the design field to have such a story.

SHAME ON YOU ! Why would you accept such a job.....with the New York Times covering it; and not make sure it was done well? Or done at all??!??

It is beyond me. Our "business" is in a total shambles........showrooms closing left and right...and you deal a death blow to decorators? SHAME ON YOU!!!
DUH!!!
Just so you know......public.......most (I will venture) decorators take very seriously the responsibilities we accept; and when we say you can come back and move in; that is what happens.
This article is fair......and true. It is really sad.

ps. anonymous.......needs to be not allowed.......(just a suggestion!) too many!

Penelope Bianchi said...

ps. If I were Richard Mishaam......I would go into another field.....or into the witness protection program..

You have been completely disgraced.........and have smeared all of us in your field!

The buck stops at your phone and your desk.

ps "It almost seems like I owe you-and i don't"??

HUH??

OH YES YOU DO! YOU ACCEPTED THE JOB.....AND THE PUBLICITY. YOU KNEW THE RULES FROM DAY ONE?

Mary Grace said...

As a designer I would love to tell my clients to "Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning" People crave change, once the get change they HATE it. Give them a couple of days and they LOVE it.
The pain in the ass about being a designer is...convincing a client to not look at (and judge) the project until it's finished. This is my impossible dream. The reality is the client often is living in the house and sees every little bit of the project develop. It's nearly impossible for them to see our vision (this is why we are hired in the first place).
Once the project is finished, they always come around.
I can see both sides of the story in this NY Times piece. A flakey assistant and a designer that's not putting in quality "be my friend time".

This profession of ours is a nightmare!

Anonymous said...

wow. first of all, designer's comments off base (with the info we're given). if i give you 10 large, disappear, and am told that shit's done, well, that's what i expect. and though i've lived (briefly) in nyc and am used to small apartments, sweet jesus at a lap top, it's 550 sf. i'd say what was done (when actually finished) was quite good. i'm surprised he thought things like the radiator and closet could be moved at all, at just about any budget. interesting.

Anonymous said...

I'm in PR/marketing - the designer didn't do this for free, he did it for an article in the NYT. Most PR agencies would put a value of at least $10-15K on a positive feature in a top 10 newspaper.

Anonymous said...

"a good sofa costs $5000, something on Sale maybe half that"

No offense, Little Augury, but you're out of it. Even the most recent issue of House Beautiful has an article on "Twelve great sofas under $1,999." Have you not looked at the inventory in Room & Board, or Crate & Barrel?

The one thing in this job that seems to have gone right was the West Elm sofa.

The problem was not the budget. $10,000 for a room and a half, with storage (a breakfront) and dining set already bought?! All the decorator had to get, besides a quick paint job, was the sofa, a few end tables, a few lamps, a mirror, a single pair of pre-made curtains... A $10,000 budget is very doable.

As for whether the NYT should be arrranging these stories--I do like the oddness of a pairing a high-end decorator and a regular Joe, and I can't think how that would happen "naturally"--i.e., without the Times' putting it together.

The thing I worry about is that the Times' involvement might mislead the clients into thinking it's all going to turn out fine, when in fact it seems like the Times is just as happy when things go wrong: look how much copy they get out of the disasters.

little augury said...

Most good sofas for a room do cost that much-when an honest designer does the work. Yes you can get something with a basic fabric on it for less off the rack. What's the sofa made of, how is it constructed, how is it delivered? Construction should matter. If honesty is a policy all the factors go in to getting a good sofa-Not a sofa with a fabric that every TDH has and tosses when the next trend comes in. Yes, well out of it, thank you. I can extract a West Elm desk from their catalog and put it in a room but that's about it.If West Elm works-and it does-go for it.You get what you pay for-it is nicely done. But don't complain about wanting individual rooms that bespeak your personality.They create a packaged product-suitable for a certain perceived lifestyle-not an individual. They've got the sofas ready to roll, One for you and everybody else.

Lolo said...

Moral to the story, have some fucking manners. The designer acted like ass and to shovel it all over onto the assistant betrays the fact that he's also a craphead of a boss, no doubt.

As the client says, if the designer had behaved as charmingly at the end of this job as he did at the beginning then this all would have gone down more smoothly.

xcm said...

I can understand how both sides were ticked off, but ultimately, I think it was the designer's fault:
1) Mishaan is the design professional; most clients don't know what to expect. If the client has unrealistic expectations, it's the professional's job to try to moderate those expectations (by communicating). To be sure, some clients are crazy, but Logozzo didn't seem to be one of them and Mishaan totally failed to communicate. His bad.
2) BFD that Mishaan's services were gratis. Those were the terms he agreed to, so his incredibly rude remark "It almost seems like I owe you-- and I don't" doesn't cut it. Whatever happened to humility, civility, um, SERVICE?

Anonymous said...

"They create a packaged product-suitable for a certain perceived lifestyle-not an individual. They've got the sofas ready to roll, One for you and everybody else."

Speaking of "one for you and one for everybody else," shall we include zebra rugs, Murano lamps, sisal, ebonized African stools, coral branches, etc. etc.? Numbing conformity plagues the high end too.

And as for "a fabric that every TDH has," when a high-end decorator fabric becomes popular (Imperial Trellis, Lulu DK Chant, David Hicks' La Fiorentina, etc. etc.), it can end up looking just as formulaic and unimaginative as something you'd see in a chain store.

Anonymous said...

Sixteen sofas under $1,999. From the latest House Beautiful:

http://www.housebeautiful.com/shopping/furniture/affordable-sofas

Quatorze said...

I'm sorry, you DO owe the client when you take a job; you owe communication, you owe professionalism and you owe an apology when things spin out of control because you left the job solely in the hands of an incompetent assistant. There was no excuse for that comment; adding fuel to an already out-of-control fire.

Having said this, the design IS very handsome, addressed the biggest concerns of the client and the inherent difficulties of the space and was on target budget-wise. It is completely the designer's fault however that the whole experience was soured by his inattention and peremptory attitude to his client's understandably upset response upon being greeted with the initial mess. Rule Number One: Never let them see the process of making the sausage...

Anonymous said...

I don't for a minute believe this:

"...building policies had prevented [Mishaan] from...changing the radiator cover and the closet doors."

Joni is right: The cover and doors could have been removed, put away somewhere, and reinstalled when the tenant was ready to move out.

Anonymous said...

So, when one hires a decorator, is it a fair question to ask how much of the work will be done by the assistant? That is, if you pay for a big-shot decorator (and let's assume that the services in this situation were paid for), are you entitled to the big-shot or do they have the right to palm you off on the peon?

Penelope Bianchi said...

All very fascinating. The favorite comment of mine is......Quatorze" Classic.

"don't let them see the making of the sausage!"

Well: Richard m. had a lot of time to make the sausage" the client was GONE!!!

Henrietta has it totally right.

I feel sorry for poor Mary Grace! She says our profession "is a nightmare!"

I have experienced the opposite.......and feel blessed beyond to have been able to do it for 40 years......

Here is a suggestion! When they are picking apart dribs and drabs arriving. I learned to do two things.......

1) If the clients are really bad. and critical.......put it all in storage until it is all there.....make them leave the house....and install it all at once........(call it "the installation" ) And they will usually understand and feel important. (they are important.....they are our clients!)

2) Explain to them......."If you were watching a painter paint a painting.....and you said.....midway...."ewww~ I don't like that color!!": You say:
"Just let me paint the whole painting. Then evaluate. Then live with it for a week. Then we'll talk." Most people get he painting metaphor.

Best is install it all at once. Most people cannot visualize. That is a good thing. That is the reason we have a job!

I love, love love and adore my job!!!

Anonymous said...

ANON 1:29

I have a picture of a beautiful dining room that has grey walls & yellow chairs that I loosely based my dr off of...it is a lovely combo when done right!

reclamationdesign@yahoo.com said...

Oh my. As someone else said, the moral of the story is that communication is key. If there were things that couldn't be accomplished because of building rules, the designer should have let the client know that. The flakey assistant story is irrelevant. The project is the designer's responsibility and he alone is accountable. Too bad because the end projuct is quite lovely. If the client had been treated with consideration and respect, he would probalby focus on and appreciate the good and overlook those things that were not exactly to his liking. Too bad for the designer, because the work was good. His attitude, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Um, THE Richard Mishaan???? He's one of the country's top designers and I think that the homeowner didn't take full advantage of the opporturnity to work with Mishaan FOR FREE. He normally charges gazillions and his projects have MULTI-million dollar budgets. Trust me, no potential clients of his will be fazed by a silly article showcasing a sorry assistant (who has obviously been fired already, to boot).

The apartment looks fabulous EXCEPT for the cheesy, oversized and outdated breakfront the homeowner bought without his designer's approval.

By the way, using tone-on-tone colors for trim is very, very of-the-moment.

If anything, I'm sure Richard regretted wasting his time -- he doesn't need the press.

Decorno said...

That may be true, but he certainly doesn't need the bad press.

And what asshole manager blames someone for his management fuckup, fires him/her, and then lets the paper know? Not very dignified. It would have been more impressive for him to take the blame and then actually treat the client with respect. Instead, in front of a reporter, he just sounded like an ass.

A lot of trouble for a pretty uninspired room.

Dandy said...

Mishan won't lose his clientele over this. His office is known for drama within in the biz. Totally wrong for him to blame it all on the assistant. For 10 grand you could have gotten this from Ethan Allen. Because that's what this looks like, and that's the kind of budget that was provided. If you want Mishan to do what he does best, you need to give him the working situation he usually has, which is--funds and therefore the ability to use his connections and sources and eye for quality pieces. Lots of high end designers are like Jekyll and Hyde, sweet as pie with the clients and monsters with the staff. It's a very stressful business. And most of them hate their clients on some level.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone was curious who that assistant was who dropped the ball, her name is Katie Jeffreys: http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:yDVFXs3_U3IJ:www.linkedin.com/in/katiejeffreys+richard+mishaan+assistant&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Anonymous said...

I could totally do this apartment for less than 5,000 shekels, for fuck's sake. For THIS you need a decorator?

Never heard of the decorator before, probably because I'm not into over-priced, zen-like, "understated" fugly, which is what this dude clearly seems to specialize in . (And no, I don't give a shit that rich people use the guy.)

There's no excuse for the client coming back to nasty, an unfinished apartment. NONE.

What up with a fuzzball red carpet when the client said he liked sisal and neutral?

Gray and yellow? No thanks. Some of us already lived through the 80s.

To the client I say: Sleep in the goddam sleep loft, for godsakes [you fat fuck!]. Not on the couch like a hang dog that's been kicked out of the house by a bitchy wife. Be a real New Yorker. You picked this sow's ear of an apartment. So live in it.

Jane said...

I think the designer has done a great job and therefore doesn't own this guy - who was definitely looking for some kind of adventure in having his appartment done without overseeing any of the changes. 10.000 USD sounds a lot, but isn't if you look at all the stuff he bought for the appartment. Sisal flooring really is pretty expensive to start with... So I agree with Denise: it's all about communication...

Kara said...

I don't care if he is one of the top designers in the country - he came off as a total ass.

Being good as something doesn't entitle you to be a jerk.

Anonymous said...

The designer was an asshole who lied to his client. If he had told me, after taking my money, that he did not "owe" me anything and that I needed a better attitude I would have threw his ass out the fucking window! (wrapped in the ugly ass rug and unhemmed curtains)