The Top 10 Interior Designers and Decorators | Cape Town | South Africa | Part 2

The Rating Rules

A rigorous and foolproof selection methodology must be defined and adopted as the first step in the process of identifying the best Interior Designers and Decorators in Cape Town.

Comparing or rating the creative efforts of Interior Designers and Decorators based on subjective perspectives, arbitrary factors and emotional views is an exercise in futility because the results will be spurious.

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A methodical approach guarantees a credible result, which trumps the lack authenticity and legitimacy of a willy-nilly approach. Our selection methodology was based on the essential steps listed below. These steps helped us to cut to the chase and avoid the clutter, thereby expediting and facilitating the process of compiling the list of the “Top Ten Interior Designers and Decorators in Cape Town” in an accurate, effective and comprehensive manner.

The Essential Steps:

  1. Define the qualification criteria;
  2. Define the measures and standards;
  3. Quantify the rate or ratio of successes and failures;
  4. Specify a “negative feedback” threshold;
  5. Define clear rules for disqualification and exclusion.

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It was imperative, and also paramount to our success that our project applied and implemented only proven principles, best practices and rational reasoning to ensure that our primary deliverable – the exclusive list of Cape Town’s Top Ten Interior Designers and Decorators – could stand up to scrutiny at any level – based on the rules and processes articulated below:

1. Qualification criteria

1.1. Career Experience

Initially, 10 years seemed fair as a “Career Experience” qualification requirement. Unfortunately it resulted in too many new but outstanding Interior Designers and Decorators missing the cut. Five years was a better choice, as it was more inclusive, but implicitly ruled out beginner’s luck, and “new-kid-on-the-block” syndrome. Five years effectively ensured that qualifiers had weathered the initial two-year start-up storm and demonstrated resilience.

1.2. Design Disciplines

We considered selecting only Residential Interior Designers and Decorators, in order to limit the number of qualifiers. The down-side of this choice was that we excluded too many top-notch Multi-disciplinary and Commercial Interior Designers and Decorators. This seemed both unfair and illogical.

2. Measures and standards

A reasonable threshold for the number of completed projects was required, in order to adequately assess the feedback and reviews from customers. We chose a minimum of thirteen – a baker’s dozen. An unlucky number for some, but an insignificant number to us because luck and superstition were not factors in our equations. A project threshold of 13 precluded the possibility of a 50/50 split, in the event of a mixed bag of project deliveries – six good and half a dozen rotten.

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3. Successes and Failures

This step often left us flummoxed, bewildered and perplexed. We found the two questions listed below recurring and particularly exasperating:

a. How do we measure success without well-defined key performance indicators (KPIs)?
b. How do we measure failure if we choose to judge results on a personal and subjective basis?

3.1. Degrees of failure

  • Does overspending qualify as a complete failure?
  • Does late delivery qualify as a not-so-bad failure?
  • Does poor quality workmanship qualify as a very bad failure?
  • Does under-delivery and overspending combined constitute total failure?
  • Does a certain number of snags or mistakes indicate partial failure?
  • Can we classify mistakes as either big or small – conceptually or numerically?

4. Negative feedback

Is it possible to define or measure failure in an artistic, yet scientific domain?

A popular saying goes as follows:

Only doctors can get away with their mistakes, because they get buried.

What about Interior Designers and Decorators? Can they bury or hide their mistakes?

Can they bury a house, a building, an office or a room, if bulldozing it is not an option?

Let’s consider the following situation:

A couple had their home remodeled. The husband was ecstatic with the results because his dream was eventually realized: The perfect entertainment area – a bar and BBQ replete with accessories and gadgets and above all, his easy chair. He was absolutely in “party heaven”.

His wife however, felt very differently and she expressed her disappointment with all the “snags and mistakes” in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Despite his wife’s negative feedback, the husband insisted that the project was perfect – a resounding success and money well spent. He ignored his wife’s contention that they had wasted far too much money on a bad job.

Well… You be the judge: Success or failure? Degrees of success? Degrees of failure?

Understanding failure

The failure of a project may be due to one single issue or a combination of various complex issues.

In many cases, it is personality clashes, communication lapses, poor planning, financial constraints or excesses, a lack of preparation, or disagreements on fundamental issues that lead to failure.

In many cases, failures are often judged emotionally and therefore very harshly. The financial impact of a failure often determines the intensity of the emotional reaction it triggers.

The above perspectives serve to illustrate the pitfalls and complexities associated with judging or rating the performance of an Interior Designer or Decorator objectively, and interpreting customer feedback correctly.

These complex elements must however be approached rationally and given the appropriate weight, before any reasonable conclusions can be drawn.

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5. Rules for Disqualification and Exclusion

Interior Designers and Decorators whose portfolios contained no successful projects, or those who recorded more failures than successes were automatically excluded. A history of unethical practices or a record of dishonest dealings also warranted immediate disqualification.

The following questions added much color and excitement to deliberations:

Are fractured or irreparably damaged customer relationships grounds for disqualification?

Should multiple catastrophic failures be grounds for automatic exclusion?

To ensure fairness, an acceptable failure threshold was determined, against which the nature, the cause and the quantifiable impact of each failure was measured – in terms of cost and inconvenience.

Not all project failures can be attributed solely to an Interior Designer or Decorator.

A case in point was damage caused to a customer’s bedroom during a remodeling project. A prolonged storm and heavy rain resulted in leakages and flooding – despite the precautionary, but temporary water-proofing measures implemented by the builder. The storm outlasted the protective measures, resulting in significant water damage.

This situation, together with the preceding issues, elucidates the futility of applying arbitrary criteria to rate, compare or define the Top Interior Designers and Decorators.

Nonetheless, our project successfully surmounted these challenges and forged ahead in the quest to find the Top Ten Interior Designers and Decorators in Cape Town.

Related articles in the series Cape Town’s Top 10 Interior Designers and Decorators include…

Part 1: Making the cut as a Top 10 Interior Designer and Decorator
Part 2: The Rating Rules for discovering the best Interior Designers and Decorators
Part 3: The Anatomy of a Top 10 Interior Designer and Decorator

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