Portland Designer Spotlight Series – Episode 6

Portland Designer Spotlight Series – Episode 6

Welcome to the Portland Interior Designer
Spotlight Series featuring in-depth interviews with some of Portland’s most
influential and innovative interior designers. These public conversations,
sponsored by Ceilume and PortlandArchitecture.com are a nexus for
Portland’s vibrant design community, an opportunity for casual networking, and
the perfect place to hear about the next big thing in Portland design. Now please join us at Ceilume’s beautiful ceiling showroom in the heart of Portland’s east side
industrial district fo r Portland Interior Designer Spotlight. The Oregonian
newspaper dubbed him stager to the stars Justin Riordan is the founder of speed
and Archer Design Agency. As a creative energy behind Spade and Archer Riordan infuses his formal training as an architect with his natural design savvy to create
beautiful and authentic spaces for clients. Prior to opening Spade and Archer
in 2009 Riordan practiced interior architecture and interior construction
for 12 years including a tenure at Gensler the world’s largest
architecture firm affording him in an esteemed skill set and diverse background
for home staging. With more than a decade of hands-on project management and
design experience Riordan delivers an unmatched level of precision, expertise,
and service to his clients. Since founding Spade and Archer he’s personally
prepared over 2,100 homes for market. Joining Justin in conversation will be
noted architecture and design writer and founder of PortlandArchitecture.com
Brian Libby. Brian’s byline frequently appears in the New York Times, Dwell, Metropolis, Architect Magazine, Contract
Design and Eco Structure, and his blog Portland Architecture is the city’s most
prominent resource for news and in-depth coverage of projects and issues encompassing the regional design community. And we are very happy to host this event in
Ceilume’s Portland showroom, the only manufacturer owned ceiling showroom in North America which we’ve opened here as a resource for the interior design
industry. If you have any questions about our unique ceiling tiles or panels
please ask me or Ben, we’re happy to help you guys out with any info. And without further delay
please allow me to introduce Justin Riordan and Brian Libby. I wanted to maybe begin by asking you to
tell us a little bit about your background is a designer and that I know you studied architecture, and I also wondered maybe before that like you know this is
something we end up asking a lot of the designers here like you know some people
kind of have a sense early on of what they want to do like you know and some
people have a more roundabout path to it and so I wondered you know like if you
knew that you wanted to be involved in some kind of design profession be it
architecture or interiors or otherwise you know from an early age or or you
know how you got to got to architecture school and so forth. Absolutely, I’d like to
say thank you so much for having us thank you all so much for coming today
and thank you Ceilume for hosting us I really appreciate it. So growing up I think the first
memory ever have a job that actually wanted to do I wanted to be a solid gold
dancer, which would have been super awesome but unfortunatey went off the air before I got a chance to
try out and so ended up going to school for architecture University of Hawaii
and I was at university of Idaho for two years I didn’t like it there was too
cold and too small and so I told my parents I want to transfer to the school
and they said well then pay for it yourself and so I was a cheerleader at the time which
was working on my solid gold dancer roots and I decided to look for schools
that would offer both scholarships in cheerleading and have architecture programs because I wasn’t smart enough to get an academic scholarship and so I found
Tennessee, Knoxville and University of Hawaii were the two schools that had both those things and I was like Tennessee or Hawaii? Tough call. So I went with Hawaii. Went to school in Hawaii did cheerleading, learned a ton about teamwork from being a cheerleader. Learned a little bit about architecture and
from going to architecture school. Like the architecture of pyramids maybe? Yea we built a lot of pyramids. Graduated from there moved to San Francisco I have a couple of like I’ve
always been kind of a goal setter so I set some really basic goals for San
Francisco. I wanted to get married, start a career, and buy a house. Yeah just like little little minor
things and I wanted to finish up as I was 35 and so I when I hit 30 I had all
those done and I was there with my husband my son and we realized that
San Francisco wasn’t sustainable for us anymore and so we moved up to Portland and we’re
here for a couple years before we started the company and yeah that’s, does that answer the question?
Yeah and how much do you feel like you’re design training helps you in
your business or or you know maybe that could be the next thing we could talk
about it is how you started to make your way through some of the different
professions you did when you and I met earlier it seemed like this sort of
different stages of your career before your true career you know helped you in
different ways getting sort of a design sense from studying architecture and
also you know working in the construction field in some of the things
you’ve done.
So my entire background before home staging was in commercial
tenant improvements in high-rise buildings and so in the beginning I was
kind of a CAD monkey I drew details and I designed so many bathrooms and so many
felt like endless amounts of bathrooms I can still tell you like all the ADA codes for
every single commercial bathroom out there and I was my start of it and I realized
that in the architecture world I was like a 50th percentile designer I was
mediocre and the real world I’m like 99% I’ll but when you get to Gensler
everybody’s 99% And so within that 99% I was like you know
halfway, I was okay at it but I was a really really good project manager I was
able to get us money gets paid and stay on budget and get it done on time the way and nobody else in
architecture could because architects are notoriously horrible businesspeople yeah
we’re really bad at it and so because I was good at that side I kept seeing my
counterparts on the construction side project managers and they were getting
huge accolades and there at the top of the food chain and they were being
treated so well and so when I dropped my son I made an agreement with my employer that I would stay
home for a few months to take care of my son and the employer let me go on Martin
Luther King Day which my son is black and let me go on Martin Luther King day which I
was like you do see the irony here and so I was like curse you ended up being a
really great thing because I jumped from there into construction. I called the construction
company that I’d been working with for a while and I said I would love to come in just
be like an assistant I will I get you coffee and they’re like well how about
if you’re a project manager for us and will double your salary, oh and we’ll buy you a car
and I was like let me think about it like why would you think about it like to do it
and so it was managed to make that leap over the construction on the
construction site of things was really interesting because design is very
gray and when you’re when you’re doing design you you think you know you’re
doing it correctly and then somebody comes up to me like you did it wrong
like no I really did it right I swear there’s a ton of like grey explanation and construction you’re given a set of
drawings and you build it to the set of drawings and its black or white either you did it right or you didn’t and there’s
no question of that so I love construction for that you did it
correctly or you didn’t and it was just like so cut and dry and so perfect. The economy
crashed, I was working construction up here doing project management and there was no
chance I was gonna get a job as a contractor or as an architect and so I
said ok well what would you do then and I was like I really like lamps so I will
open a lamp store and I realized that I have zero experience in retail I’ve
never worked retail in my entire life and so the lamp store wasn’t gonna work right and so I said ok
if you didn’t have to get paid and you can do any service industry at all what
would you do and I said I would move around people’s furniture and I said ok
now how do you get paid for that? And I was like oh home staging! so I called my husband he was in New
York visiting his family I said Joe we’re gonna open a home staging company and call it Spade and Archer and he goes that sounds great and I was like best husband ever and so like
within a week I think we had a website and a business license oh wow and yeah it’s
ever since then we’ve been going strong yeah yeah and you really seems like a
really found your your calling and that you you knew that you could sort of marry
your project management skills with a certain design acumen that you had as
well and you know I found it interesting to read about what you do in
like for example the interview with The Oregonian and you’d done some other
writing for them as well and like you talked about some kind of simple
concepts that maybe people sometimes who aren’t in the profession and who aren’t designers might
forget that they’re kind of rules that exist for a reason like you talked about
symmetry and repetition and rhythm and and some of those simple principles that
kind of transcend all the different projects or the different styles or
the different you know set of conditions that school of architecture at University of
Idaho is associated under the School of Art and so when you major in
architecture there you take a lot of art classes and they drill into you those
basics of design and its rhythm, repetition, scale, color, and texture those
five things that you do over and over and over and over and over again and so
when I made that leap into into home staging like these are the five
principles that are missing from this industry this is what doesn’t get done
and so we took those very very basic elements and we drill them into our
rooms over and over and over and when you think of something like a rhythm or repetition
human beings find things beautiful that repeat themselves like we love flowers
because we look at a flower bush it’s the same thing over and over and
over again and we love that it’s what drives us nuts as
human beings we find it beautiful and so we can recreate that interior spaces we
walk in and without even knowing why we like it we just do because it reacts
in our like in our gut it says this is this is how it’s supposed to be this is
right versus having just a bunch of mismatch pieces that are just thrown
into a room and they’re like this makes no sense to me it seems like people sometimes even come to
you and kind of want you to do a sort of staging that becomes an interior design
for almost like their whole house and it feels like it kind of speaks to these
rules and also that there’s a sense of kind of restraint that goes into this
and and and even though the projects I see that you’ve done are full of color
and texture and pattern and and some of these generals that we’ve talked about
you know they’re there I think it speaks to a kind of talent being able to say no
and to kind of to be able to edit yourself and some of those principles as well the rooms are are
very restrained we use color in a very simple way our larger items couches
chairs rugs tables those things are all neutrals and so black white cream grey
brown beige it’s the non rainbow colors those are neutrals and then we’ll come
back through with another layer of color on top of that and that color will be one
color story might be like this is a raspberry room and then or this is this
is a peacock room and the reason we do that one color per room is because
one when their photograph their tiny on a web site when you could see
them and so when you have more than one color it can become very distracting and
then when you walk through a house one of our houses and you go home after
seeing ten houses that day and each room has each house had 10 rooms if you say
to your husband or wife you say you were the house that had the wood floors and
had the windows in the living room with a fireplace and they’re like uh, I don’t remember that one, but if you say remember the house that had the pink bedroom Yes I remember that house well I think the green
room should be Jill’s bedroom and so we give them a label or monacre at a place on
each room in the house they can easily discuss our house we know for a fact
that no couple is going to buy a house if they can’t agree on and if they can’t
even discuss it they certainly can’t agree on it and so
it’s very formulaic its to make it so that our clients have an easy time not
only digesting but also discussing our projects. I believe you’ve also even taught a seminar
to real estate people kind of on buyer psychology and I find that aspect of
it interesting and it’s it’s why certain types of interior design if I’m really
interesting also because there’s some kind of knowledge about the behavioral
patterns of people in some of their psychological instinct so you know it
seems like that’s an aspect of the design process you’ve explored as well as a as a way of
kind of you know making sure you’re getting you know clients what they
want baseline in home staging is pretty make it pretty like you hit like the
base and there’s believe me there’s a lot of staging that doesn’t hit the base and so if
you can elevate that slightly higher and say not only we’re making it pretty we’re
understanding what people are gonna go through as they walk through this house average person is in a home for seven to
nine minutes we spend more time trying on a pair of jeans than we do deciding if we’re gonna move forward with purchasing a house or not it’s fast and in the largest cities in
America it’s even faster at this point because you’re putting in offers immediately
and so in order to get somebody to understand the house in seven to nine minutes if
they’re walking in and they’re like oh gosh I’m not sure if my king size bed can fit in this
bedroom what wall would I put it on and where would my TV go and how do I place my couch in this room
where they would spend two or three minutes trying to figure that out if the
house is staged the furniture will tell them that instantly they want to go
that’s where my couch goes because it’s already there and so we can answer those
questions were making it a lot easier for them and so getting our real estate clientele to
understand that but it’s not just about pretty pillows and which piece of
furniture do you choose it’s actually about the placement of those items and the education
and ability of the stager that’s actually putting those in those houses that’s
going to make sure they understand the house itself as they walk through without overshadowing the house I would say they we’re back up dancers the house is Tina Turner we’re the backup dancers.
So you kind of became a solid gold dancer afterall. so you have to I think in good home
staging you have to be good to be a backup dancer you to be a good dancer but you
can’t be better than Tina you can’t do that and so it’s a talent on its own, it’s like 20
feet from fame people walk in looking at houses like this has really
beautiful but they should pay attention to the house if they’re paying attention
to the fantastic piece of furniture that’s in there we failed because we’re
overshadowing the star and that’s not what we should be doing.
I also wanted to ask you a little bit about just kind of what it takes two to make a company
like this happen from a kind of logistical standpoint like the I understand
and if I’m not mistaken like you you kind of buy a lot of furniture and have a
kind of warehouse of furniture that you use to kind of draw from so I wonder if you
could just talk a little bit about what it takes to get the job done and just to
be there and I think the first ingredient is balls of steel yeah you since it’s horrifying sometimes
I tell you I mean at this point between Seattle and Portland and Palm Springs we
have sixty five houses staged we’re doing eight load ins I’m sorry twelve load ins per week and twelve destages per week I mean there’s furniture is just
moving fast I think the hardest part of this job is finding the right people and
I’m horrible at interviewing and hiring people because I am extremely flirtatious
forgive me I’m sorry so and so when somebody walks into a space I fall in love with them
and I want them to be my best friend and and and I tend to find that I
hire people that I like which people that I like aren’t necessarily good at
home staging so we develop a system where it’s kind of like an episode of double dare
we do physical challenges where we like make them draw floor plans we make them
actually stage a room we make them pick out the furniture that goes into it we we really test not only
their skill set we also time it and so we test how they deal with stress
because I gotta tell you we’ll stage a 6,000 square foot house in 10 hours
and I mean that’s fast there’s a lot of pressure there and you know don’t
mess it up because you will get a phone call the next day that’s like we don’t
like this house and so really I think that making this business go is all about
having the right people and since we started doing these physical challenges
and interviewing people through that process we’ve really found the right
people we don’t hire any design managers that don’t have a degree like a formal
education in design we all of our warehouse people all have backgrounds in
carpentry so they know how to fix and deal with houses and so having those
right people there make it so that I can actually do my job and my job at this
point really is procurement and PR so I go and I do things like this and talk to
people in thank you guys again and then I buy a lot of stuff and picking out the
right furniture that goes into a house I think is huge so we’re constantly
looking for items that are classic that are not gonna go out of style in five
minutes we’re trying not to buy things that are trendy we could care less if
it’s comfortable or not like I’ve never sat at one of my couches honestly I walk into
the store I pick them up to see if they’re heavy or not I make sure the
legs come off that we can get them through doors and do they look right and those
are my criteria that’s it and so if it meets that criteria then great but if it’s
comfortable honestly I don’t care so I think those kind of the big things yeah yeah I also when I was reading the
story they have all the designers in the series answer kind of like a thing called five
things they know about design and when I read those five things that brought
about a larger point I thought about you and there’s this interesting combination
of a really strong design acumen and understanding of what the problem is and
how to how to achieve you know a good a good solution for clients and there’s
also a sense that you see the value in kind of the business side of it of having good customer service and like
your first thing that you listen was good design cannot exist in the absence
of good service and you know because design it’s kind of like an artistic and
creative profession you know there can always be you know some people
in architecture or interior design the design disciplines that can be you know
a little bit on the kind of artist or prima donna side and it seems like you
found a way to really be creative but it remained sort of strategic and
pragmatic about running a business too I think it’s very easy in design to get
a big head to think of ourselves as being self important because you are
constantly defending your work and you put your product out there and a lot of
times people don’t like it because of that you’re constantly trying to push
yourself up and make yourself feel good about your work what you what you did
like I am good at this I really I’m good at this I know this, at the same time you
can go to far with it that you get overblown and really when it comes out there like
hierarchy of design like you know architects are up here and then there’s
like interior designers and then like down here is like home stagers and for a
home stager to get a big head to say things like I’m the only person who can
make aesthetic decisions here that’s not going to make for happy client, and if a client called you up and theyre like we really love the house but this piece of art that’s
over the fireplace we just we hate it and so were like ok great no problem we’ll swap that out for you in 24 hours no problem we don’t care and we’re first and foremost a service company and we’re secondary a design company and we can’t
we literally won’t exist unless we do it we’re very very fortunate that we work
with fantastic clients our real estate agents are unbelievably kind and
generous not only in the compliments that they give us but also the negative
feedback and when we get negative feedback from our clients when they call us
like hey you know what this really well for us but this didn’t go well for us we
keep a spreadsheet that we call the misses spreadsheet and it’s not missus
as unlike mr. and mrs. it’s misses like a swing and a miss and when we screw things
up we chart it and we write down like ok we had this problem where this thing
happened and then we put an X next to it and every time we get something that has
more than five X’s next to it that’s a repetitive problem that we have not
produced a system to deal with that our problem not just a fluke if something
happens once you have a miss and like man that sucks that’s not a process problems but
if it keeps happening over and over again we forget dust ruffles like five
days in a row there’s a problem we need a checklist back there that shows us that we need to pull dust ruffles, they’re not called dust ruffles anymore they’re bedskirts, sorry I’m old school in three different cities in Seattle and
palm springs and portland and when it asked you just if if they’re kind of
differences that comes from being in different cities or also maybe as a side
note if any of those three cities if there are any kind of memorable you know
assignments a project that kind of mine and so to my questions about the
differences between the cities so Palm Springs has told of a market for us we
do almost exclusively vacation rental set-ups so somebody buys a house the
house is empty they cost up to I can you please finish his house and will
nominate two days black hole thing out making rented on the third day so totally free market down there and I
literally fly down to just meet with clients down there and that’s it we
don’t have a home based there and also we’re serving at because there’s a need
for us down there seattle and portland very very similar
markets slightly different in each other Portland people are extremely played
extremely nice and seattle people are also nice but also really honest and so
they’ll tell you I say Seattle so passive aggressive like totally but
portland is aggressively passive aggressive when somebody importance not
happy with what they don’t tell you they’re just like well I was gonna be
with my mom died sorry and so you never really find out what you up and so those
two markets are slightly different for each other in that way and I i dont me
wrong I love for I’m aggressively passive aggressive as
well workwise so memorable projects the ones that you remember are the ones that
trusted you when you didn’t have anything to go off and so that one of my
very very first projects in Portland was was the number five firehouse on 23rd so
it’s the spider house in the economy was in the tank in it was a 1.2 million
dollar two-bedroom apartment a giant garage fire house and client call me up
and take you please come look at it and I’m like yeah sure and I don’t even know
if we have like inventory that point they will it without furniture to put
into this house and it was so gigantic to me because somebody trusted me to do
this job even though they didn’t really know I was gonna do a good job which was
and it was just everything to me and then we’ve been opened in Seattle since
january fourth and a client approached us maybe in like our second week and she
said I saw your website and we want you to come in and do our model home and so
there’s a ton of new condo buildings that are being built in Seattle and all
of sudden in like the last three weeks we’re getting show like model apartment
after model from I’ll be all the sudden become like the model apartment stages in Seattle on this because of this one
client trust us and she knows everybody and see they’re talking about us over
and over and over unit we don’t pay for advertising it gets like against my
moral core and so everything we do is word of mouth and so when you find
something like that but is willing to spread that word about you it’s it’s an
amazing thing is just yourself thankful and so right now it’s not necessarily
about like that individual prizes finding that person that’s willing to
talk about you and willing to say that you did a good job for them and you know
i at this point when any anybody does a good job for me i i tried all the time
to tell that story like he did a good job for me that should work with that
and they’re fantastic and so that word of mouth thing i think thats quite a lot
last is that it really works here you can really do it here yeah yeah absolutely given what you do
and and and you know the the constraints that come and and the challenges of
timing and everything but wondered if you ever felt tempted to to go your own
drought-like with your own house or if you if you have like a dream house I
wanted it would be like very different from that kind of work you do every day
or if I had the chance think think so dream house I live my
dream house we bought houses in 1893 Queen Anne Victorian and it was went
through a really bad slip in 2007 and it like it’s still really like a proud
history it’s an avatar is hysterical and we bought it with the intention of being
a twenty-five year house and our intention was that my son would start
kindergarten in that house would go through his entire schooling career
throughout college and always come back to that same house and that’s that’s our
goal at that house I moved every year and half and I was a kid government program or services so we
moved all the time and so I wanted to have that experience of being able to be
settled and grounded in the place has been obviously my son is black we moved to the corner of Rosa Parks and
Martin Luther King that’s the one neighborhood in Oregon
where like we can both be comfortable and it’s been great so my son goes to
school has 10 percent black and tan in school with him which is unheard of in
Oregon will go to high school that is the two percent black at this point
Jefferson which is fantastic and so our house it is kind of a dream houses funny
was hired an architect to do a renovation is actually here is that soo
brian thank you for being here appreciate it he’s working on plans for us to do
renovations on that house and all that weren’t doing is we are undoing the flap
we’re making a house be what it should have been what should have happened to
it the first time so basically I’m home depot in it so if we you know and and
we’re not looking for it to look like it did in like in 1890 when it was built
for looking for it to look like it wasn’t messed up right so great that’s
what it should be like the name of the TV show like Home Depot I don’t know
that well in a second will turn it over to the audience but I guess just a final
question I wanted to ask you is no just kind of if you could share a little bit
about what your passions are maybe culturally or otherwise you know like
you know like maybe the best way to ask it is like what gives you a sense of
wonder whether it’s you know you know are at or going to the mountains or or
just family time or whatever but what really sort of get to jazz when it
doesn’t have to do with work so really only do two things in my entire life
it’s family and its work and my husband’s a stay-at-home dad which
enables me to work like three hundred and ninety hours a week which is great
and I love that he loves doing that cuz I try two or three months that was awful what gives me a sense of wonder I mean
the things that we are really passionate out of this point I really love
understanding people and the way that people react to interact with each other
and I literally i on my phone I have pictures of strangers on my phone can
drive by car bus stop and I’ll see some dude in like you know a pointy leather
jacket with white like spandex pants and a huge like rodeo belt buckle and I’m
like a person is fascinated with people and the way that they leave their lives
and the way they interact with each other and really change it part of work to do because that’s how
people I I love figuring out when somebody writes me email you know
sometimes you can’t hear inflection the amount so you’re you’re trying to figure
out like what they really asking and that’s like a huge passion of mine is
like figuring out what people what their intentions really are not there trying
to hide them is that sometimes we are clear with our intentions and how to
appropriately react so that we can elicit the right response from them and
so really I am I don’t believe in afterlife I’m not that kind of guy I
think that that this is our one chance there’s no pretest like this is the
final exam and so I think that really paying attention to how we interact with
each other and how we interact with ourselves making this really the best
life that you can possibly every single day that’s that’s inspired me so like
trying new restaurants and going and seeing new movie our new play or
interacting with my kids or having a sit-down conversation with my my
employees and and making their lives better at the
same time is making my life better that’s extremely to me that’s super and
you know it it struck me as you were saying that there when you’re special
especially when you’re talking about kind of like investigating and studying
people it it brought me back around to the idea that it’s almost like a kind of
detective work that is done as a designer and I realize that I never
acceded you know tell the story of how the state in our name came about other
than it being inspired by the black bird so I lived at 891 post tree it’s the
corner post and Hyde in San Francisco and I had said to be married at that
point my fiance my husband at that point I you my fiance were both like Harry a
man so far for on say don’t repeat my husband I said just now so I had said to my husband I really
want to read the classics I want to read like the classic San Francisco books and
he had gotten me a set of tells the city and daschle animals and so is reading
The Maltese Falcon and in the books and speed as the main character miles Archer
is his partner great guys like the first paragraph a very short part and Sam
Spade goes home after investigating this murder of his partner and he goes home
to my building is little like it’s at the corner post in hiding described the
entryway describes my apartment to ATM reading this book in the apartment that
sounds a little like this is crazy I go to the last time I clambered what gives
why does housemaid live here he’s like I’m like what he’s like dashiell hammett
wrote the book when he lived in the corner unit in the guy who lives there
now will let us even like change out the plumbing because he says it’s
historically significant crazy and I was like that’s the coolest
thing ever and at the point I was this is almost twenty years ago and I said if
I ever owned my own company I recall speed nurture and so we changed it from
Spain archer detective agency to design agency and our logo is literally a stop
the window of their offices where they’re scraping off miles yeah I was
gonna have had some kind of glass steagle at the name of the outlets on
our ads on our warehouse so like that everything comes from that movie and
it’s worked out really well because people recognize it but they don’t know
why they have an instant familiarity but not enough that they’re like 100 people
identify what they can think humphrey bogart yes yes so and yeah we have we
have a little bit history of her bodyguard yeah he was in casablanca is
so big sleep and has a Portland history as well his first wife was from Portland and
there’s like a table it takes restaurant that’s named for him because he’s 20 is
hang out there nice nice so in that movie he says the
piano player played against him and the guy who played Sam his name was
due the day with my son’s name as well that’s so great yeah we’re like that’s a
little bit of connections super-duper well as anyone from the audience have a
question for just distance so I honestly I think the scariest thing about how
about home staging is financing its it costs an enormous amount of money to
purchase that much furniture and so my advice to you things I wish I had done as I wish that
I had secured a line of credit early on that was a good interest rate
and then set up a plan to repay add a line of credit on a regular basis I
think that you know when you’re when we were like three years into it we were
buried under a mountain of that and it was horrifying and you know you spend a
lot of time crawling your way back out and so I would say I would be number one
number two would be there no matter how you price your work people will always
be disappointed and there’s some people that their nature is just to say you
can’t say I’ll do it for a penny tomorrow and then I can you do for a
half a penny today I’m so you have to be able to say now I’m sorry we can’t do it
for that price and the people that want you to a slasher prices every single day
those who want to work with because no matter what you do they’re never gonna
be happy with you and so set your prices that you can make a profit and stick to
your guns that’s outrageous but you should be able to eat dinner then it’s
fine it’s sustaining really need it and just because somebody
tells you that you too expensive doesn’t mean that you are it just means that
they think you are so at my house we have always had a vintage radio in our
kitchen and it’s always tuned NPR and every morning it gets turned on and we
listen to NPR on old radio it’s the kind that like takes like five minutes
actually warm and so it became our trademark that we always leave a vintage
radio we put our brochures next to it and that’s been my car are calling card
and I think I think there’s a married man meredith bear is home to major in LA she
really is a home to the stars I don’t know where that came from ok so she leaves a pagan every house is
like a pagan every house and so I think that you know having your calling card
and people can recognize you it’s gigantic because I’m home staging you do
you’re working you walk away and so there has to be something there that
tells a story that you were there on Instagram we post pictures out rooms
that have furniture know people in them so they’re incredibly boring and it
sucks to say likely to bed early stage like over and over and over again so we
started writing staging stories and they’ll be things like a pink bedroom
with a set of skis and it’ll say something to the effect of like you know
after the accident they just couldn’t take down her room and I just like it
incredibly sad depressing stories about the spaces and it’s literally means so
bored that I might have to write something we describe what did you do it
again let’s I but you’re not gonna see first
so you are not going to say anything that marks territory a lot people say
you shouldn’t have personal attacks I don’t want our houses to look in
personalization luke warm and personal abiding by there shouldn’t be anything
that marks territory so I territory Barker would be like family photographs
trophies degrees that have names on them calendars with appointments on it but
these territorial markers do is they instantly change you from being a new
homeowner 20 welcome guests and the last thing you want to be a welcome guests
are you looking for a house because that means you’re thinking about the family
that lives there currently so there are no territorial markers at all you’re
also not going to say anything to mostly about dead so it’s really hard to buy
art from staging because are the artists job is to evoke emotion and so we’re
constantly looking for beautiful artwork that evokes no emotion and anybody which
is like a lot of life seashells and horses and you define and it shouldn’t
be cheesy so you’re not gonna find artworks of like Jesus on a cross or
Barack Obama likes to hug you know small child things that that evoke an
emotional like huge now knows you are not going to find any devices so no
alcohol drugs tobacco pornography or firearms and alcohol is like a huge one
home staging home to use a lot of alcohol they put it everywhere and you
know when you see the bottle of wine and exit the bath tub I just had the razor
blades as well the last time it was not romantic you
you will find beautiful classic pieces that don’t match I think natural is the
lowest from a design and coordinating is a much higher from a design that when I
have my son when he was three or so much on his bike and he came to me and
reinstall them he said I wish we could trade skin and it’s why do you want to
trade standards said because all of the other kids at school match their parents
and I was like oh I said that we don’t we don’t match what we do is we
coordinate look how beautiful you next time I see it said matches like the
Louis Rams nine week when he was like oh really so our houses are going to look
like somebody has lived there for twenty years travel the world collected a huge supply of things
through a bunch of something didn’t match together and somehow made it look
as though I feel like when you walk into one of our houses this like watching
naughty companies to a beam routine have ever seen her ten on the beam she
doesn’t break a sweat and you watch the Regina like I could totally do that you
should walk into our houses and it should feel like it took us 10 minutes
it looks hard you’re doing it wrong and so you’re going to find a very very easy
looking space that being said like iron our sheets because it looked horrible
and photographs because they’re so wrinkly so you’re in a fine houses that
are extremely organized we rely heavily upon 90 degree angles we provide we rely
heavily on symmetry what do we do i think thats not answer a question with a
repetition so we utilize artwork from a petition alot and so will take the same
frame with different series of protocol the series and so like maybe we’ll go
and we’ll buy books they’re all bicycle photographs and will not all of those in
the same frame over and over again and we’ll hang them and that repetitious
series that are all spaced out evenly and all hung perfectly even so you end
up with this like grid or or rhythm that takes you on a hallway or through a room
will have your dining room chairs that are of course all the same and it’s over
and over again the table asset and it’s all the same over and over and over
again our car spaces almost ordered a line on order they’re so simple and so
clean that because they’re trying so hard not to rush out of the house they
almost there are most boring yeah I think that’s where crimson yes this is
gross if you’re there for closing up put in bathrooms they are red yellow green
and brown people have mold these are the things you don’t want in somebody else’s
bathroom as the father of an eleven-year-old child yellow walls in
the bathroom grosses me out because they don’t have good aim so we concentrate
heavily on white and bathrooms it’s the same principles when you go
into a hotel city hotel before work all over their seats they were white would
you ever say the hotel that had brown model sheets go so somebody else’s house you really
you want it to be clean and so in the bathroom is the most important and so
everything about this white the question is do we staged differently for
different demographics and other people ask it to you safely for different
houses for different houses no but for different demographics yes so if we are
staging in the core of the city and its in like the fours then we’re looking at
a family that’s you know in the 26 thirties there will be a little more hip a little bit more a hipster if we’re
staging out in Beaverton it might be home more conservative it also depends
on how good of the schools in this area and sometimes and thats we asked like
three questions do you have lived here for questions how much is this house can
be sold for in our schools desirable in this area and sometimes I’ll be like hey
the elementary school has a reputation but the high school here is awesome so
we’re gonna stage for a family that slightly older because they’re going to
have kids that are in their teens are looking at thirty to forty forces 22
thirties they have different aesthetics and if we’re staging in Palm Springs
where we’re dealing specifically with retirement communities we can’t put
vintage radios everytime accuse because they see him in his radio as my mom’s
crap where somebody who’s twenty or thirty is like that’s cool radio you
want to be like your grandparents you don’t want to be anything like your
parents and so really age demographics are are gigantic and depend on on on
family make up demographics are gigantic so yes it changes based on the
demographic and were constantly making up a demographic of who we think that
buyer is trying to make it as large as possible and attract as many people as
we lost some of my favorite thing about what I’m doing as I feel like I haven’t
gone to work in six years I feel like I completely cheated the system and I
can’t believe people pay me to do this how great yeah I think that that’s
really the biggest part of it I think that’s been the biggest job at the
second thing that i think is fantastically awesome is that an archer
has provided well paying jobs with good benefits in design in Portland Oregon
which doesn’t exist we pay our employees way too much and we do it because we
feel that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort in order to be a
designer you should be amply compensated for your work and so being able to
provide healthy way of living wage for our design staff is gigantic to me I
feel like every night and go to bed I feel like I i’m ok I’m doing alright
because I’m providing for people that wouldn’t have unless I did this so its
parts used to be my people are are the most important part of this business
that’s super I wonder if you could have a word with some ironic claims about the
rates they pay unfortunately I’m aggressively passive
aggressive so now you’re to Portland maybe we’ll wrap up there but thank you
thank you so much to everyone for coming and let’s give a round of applause to

2 thoughts on “Portland Designer Spotlight Series – Episode 6

  1. omg i love this guy. i seriously want to hang out with him. lol. a very smart, down to earth and likeable guy.

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