THE KÜBLER-ROSS MODEL IN DESIGN or YOUR FUTURE CLIENTS ARE GRIEVING

Updated: May 26


Have you read Lori Gottlieb's "Maybe you should talk to someone?" ? It's good. Reading it was like going to therapy at the cost of a book, at your pace, in your time. A win-win!

It made me wonder how there are numerous professions in which one is required to function also as a therapist. I find Architecture to be one of those, and just like patients in therapy need to process their grief until reaching a breakthrough, same goes with clients in search for an architect.

In order to get a project, architects and designers first need their clients to go through the five stages of grief.


Architecture to the outside world seems like the most free-spirited, fun profession. It's creative and artistic. You do those free sketches using cool-looking pencils and build tiny models. You get to imagine, explore and realize. I have just described Kindergarten! So why anybody sane enough would pay someone to do a free play?


Don't be mad. Your future clients are simply going through the 1st stage of grief: DENIAL. They avoid hiring a professional because they are confused, they don't fully grasp the whole process of design. Plus, they are shocked by the preposterous quote you've just provided them with!


Now they feel ANGER. That's the 2nd stage. They are furious with you for asking money in exchange for your work! It's not really a real job, it's just you having fun with your drawing and browsing through magazines. They are frustrated and irritated, because they were thinking to first let you design their house for free, and if they are happy with the outcome, they will hire you for their next house they would buy when retired, or recommend you to their friends. Deal? No?!


Your future clients feel DEPRESSION, aka the 3rd stage of grief. They are overwhelmed by your walking away on their great offer to work for free. Being the owners of a poorly designed space, but having no designer, makes them feel helpless, which lead them to act in a hostile way and simply flight. They email you a lame excuse about a vacation abroad and taking some time off, and then they are gone.


In their BARGAINING stage your future clients struggle to find the meaning of design. They try to squeeze all the knowledge you've acquired through multiple years of learning and practicing while being underpaid, into a speedy process of ordering design magazines, binge watching makeover TV shows, and frequent visits to the local hardware store. They ask their DIY-enthusiast friends for advice, which in return walk them through their house, explaining them why they chose red for their bedroom, and why their fridge is located in their family room. They all have a good lough and tell themselves they can really manage a design process by themselves.


But they can't. Your future clients have been doodling floor plans, searching relentlessly for solutions online and buying multiple paint samples. It simply doesn't add up! They finally accept they need you! The 5th and last stage of ACCEPTANCE will presumably lead to your hiring as their architect.

You meet up and explore endless options to rearrange their space. You go back and forth, day and night, and reach a solution you all agree is the best.

And then they move on. To do it by themselves.


THE END


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Architecture & Interior Design

© 2020 by Elinor Gefen-Rotstein

Greater Boston Area

Real Design For Real People