Designing an Apartment for an Imaginary Client

“Do whatever you want… I trust you.” Is there a more stressful sentence than that? And from a fellow designer? When I saw the empty apartment designed by Karen Bar (karenb) for her client, it was immediately clear to me how I wanted to fill it: minimalist furniture, warm-toned textiles, and lots of thin metallic design items. In my imagination, everything was already taking shape and looking wonderful, but for a moment I got slightly shaky knees… what if Karen doesn’t like the result? Suddenly I feared she might be disappointed.

After all, designing for a designer is no small feat.

After all, designing an apartment or a house is a long process where I, as a designer, have the opportunity to explain myself and create a shared vision with the clients. In such a process, there is feedback and reciprocity between both sides, with many opportunities to review the progress and ensure the clients like what they see. Styling for a photoshoot, with all the work involved, is essentially a setup-shoot-dismantle session. It’s a one-time chance to give my interpretation of Karen’s design work.

It happens to me quite often, I come in enthusiastically, confident in my talent and ability to turn any space into perfection, and then I start to doubt. I obviously know that self-doubt is a trait that doesn’t help at all, but like a bad habit, I find it hard to get rid of… what sometimes helps is simply talking to myself, reminding myself that I’ve been in this situation before and proven myself. Deciding that I can ignore the voices that belittle and weaken and just focus on the work. Focusing on how fun it is that Karen trusts me, giving me artistic freedom, focusing on how the initial conditions of the apartment are so beautiful and inspiring and just surrendering to it.

I decided that even if I didn’t have real clients for this project, I could invent them myself. So I imagined who lives in the apartment… a young couple with a child, those who still want to enjoy the big city before they feel it’s too crowded for them. They are in a kind of transitional phase. They still feel like the students they were until recently and sleep on a mattress in the bedroom, and on the other hand, they have a child and are already a family ;-). They love Tel Aviv, but sometimes they fantasize about living in a distant city with a foreign language. They like their home to look tight and precise, but their nest is cozy, warm, and happy… imaginary but particularly satisfied clients.

Before I could get too attached to them, the photoshoot day arrived with Shiran Carmel, the world champion in photography… Karen and I ran around organizing, straightening, moving and returning, folding, and cleaning a bit… everything went back to its place as if it was never there.

If you want to read about Karen’s process with her real clients, go to here. And if you were also worried, Karen loved the result, and I love her XXX.

  • All photos were taken, as mentioned, by Shiran Carmel.
  • You can get the stunning pillows in the children’s room at Elior.