Part of Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-Ill.) new office in the Rayburn Office Building, which was inspired in part by the PBS show "Downton Abbey." Photographed on Jan. 30, on Capitol Hill. (Ben Terris/The Washington Post)
Part of Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-Ill.) new office in the Rayburn Office Building, which was inspired in part by the PBS show “Downton Abbey.” Photographed on Jan. 30, on Capitol Hill. (Ben Terris/The Washington Post)

Interior design and its role in politics showed up in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. Former Secretary of State and current 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently opened her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Between this location choice and Clinton’s apparent need to makeover her image in order to better relate to the American people, many have begun to speculate on what kind of vibe we’ll find in her offices.

Brooklyn Heights isn’t exactly the trendiest corner of NYC. In fact, as Emma Allen writes, the neighborhood is more of a “no man’s land… Locals refer to Brooklyn Heights as ‘America’s First Suburb.'”

“I think she’s not likely to furnish [her campaign HQ] with a host of bearded men, vintage chesterfield sofas, and fridges full of Brooklyn Lager,” David Alhadeff, the founder of the Williamsburg boutique the Future Perfect, said. “I don’t think she’ll be dumpster diving for her office chairs.”

Allen’s “Hillaryburg” piece goes on to consider several recent examples of politicians making head-scratching design choices in their offices:

Clinton could hardly do worse than the de Blasios, who, last summer, replaced antiques in Gracie Mansion on which Mayor Michael Bloomberg had spent several million dollars with sixty-five thousand dollars’ worth of free furniture from West Elm: dusty-blue sectionals, furry throw pillows. A Times Op-Ed called the decision “unseemly.” The First Family defended the choice by pointing out that West Elm had started in Brooklyn, like them…

Also to avoid: emulating Illinois Republican congressman Aaron Schock, whose decorator kitted out  his office to evoke “Downtown Abbey,” with crimson walls, gold sconces, and clumps of pheasant feathers, at a cost of forty thousand tax-payer dollars.

“In political culture, design is not a priority,” said Martin Finio, an architect who, with his wife, revamped the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Getting Paid For Design Services

The last few years have been challenging for many design firms. Adding fuel to this fire, many firms are having difficulty obtaining payment for their services. In a recent and ongoing SmartRisk Survey: 81% indicated trouble with getting paid. Successful account receivable programs do not have to be time consuming or daunting. By implementing some straightforward practices, a firm can implement an effective program that gets invoices paid on time along with maintaining a positive relationship with clients.

Establishing Financial Expectations. In an initial meeting with clients, explain in a clear and concise manner exactly what your services will be and the value you bring to the project, along with clearly stating your compensation terms. Your communication should be clear in establishing the financial expectations with the client. At this face-to-face meeting, you will obtain a sense of the client’s financial capability and ability to pay for your services. If you don’t get that warm and fuzzy financial feeling, this is the time to walk away.

Contract Agreement. The boundaries discussed at the initial meeting should be outlined in the contract agreement. Include a specific scope of services for the project, associated fees, expenses and cost of additional services. In basic terms, the agreement should explicitly state your client owes you money for services you will be rendering. The agreement should also specify the terms of payment, including any payment in advance of services. Continue reading “Getting Paid For Design Services”

We’d like to congratulate a/e ProNet client Klawiter and Associates on their design for the new ADK America offices in Los Angeles, California.

See the full press release here.

“Klawiter and Associates, Inc. has provided commercial interior planning and design services to an ever-growing list of clients for nearly twenty-five years. Jim Klawiter founded Klawiter and Associates in 1985 to fill a void in the marketplace by starting a firm that understands smart business practices could be enhanced by innovative design solutions… Klawiter and Associates is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council with a large percentage of their staff LEED Accredited.” Read more about Klawiter and Associates at their website.