Deliver The Unexpected

Why It's Important and Where to Find It


Catherine, one of my assistants and mentees had an innate ability to ferret out unexpected treasures, curiosities and visually delicious items that drew you in.  She now has her own design business and is doing fabulously.  She had such a good eye and understood the importance of finding those "unexpected" treasures that raised the level of the design in a space.  I never asked her to draw many custom detail spec/shop drawings - it just wasn't her strength.  Instead, I would dispatch her to go and root out the coolest most intriguing and beautiful things.  As an entrepreneur and design firm owner, you have to know where your people shine and let them do that.

"As an have to know where your people shine and let them"

Catherine had the eye to find the treasures and as a business owner, I needed someone who I knew who could find the right touches to really deliver a great space.  Seeking out those details is one of the things I love to do - really - but it is important to be able to delegate to those who are also able.  I cannot be all places at once and Catherine was interested in learning how to be an interior designer and owning a design firm.   So she took the guidance and interpreted it for herself.


Delivering the Unexpected

Iris Apfel is an iconic style personality who has created an amazing following for her unique eye and style.   Her clothing is always unique and simply fabulous but where she gets the real impact is her ACCESSORIES.

Now, take that idea into an interior space.  What are the accessories of an interior space?  Those are the items that are thoughtfully and carefully placed throughout the room.  Lighting is the jewelry and so is the art, accessories and occasionally a chair will provide a visible punch.

Those items dress out the room and give it its own personality and flair.  It can be subtle or strong, gathered, curated, abundant or highly edited -  but it's vital to elevating a  typical space to a "sophisticated" room.

Why is it important to go the extra distance and "Deliver the Unexpected"?

Designers can set themselves apart from the typical and create interest in the selections they make.  That makes an impact on the client and anyone who see' s the room.  That translates to more work and great word of mouth for more projects.  We love what we it well and thoughtfully and more work will develop.   

Finding the treasures

I have many places that I go to and when I am in those cities/localities - I do not pass up stopping in and browsing.  Now, with the internet, many designers tend to get a little passive and look online for items.  That is ok but getting out to these little treasure troves is time well spent.

Here are 5 Sources:

1) Vintage, antique shops and salvaged architectural remnants - such good finds

2) Museum shops (MCA Chicago for example)- they have online stores but I guarantee you will ALWAYS find great and unique items in the stores themselves beyond what is online.

3) Galleries - such as Bergamot Station in Culver City/Santa Monica (just one of my favs) 

4) Upscale curated lifestyle retailers who carry locale artisans work....I showcased Forty-Five Ten in Dallas recently as one of these amazing finds.

5) Art shows - The famous Santa Barbara art show near the beach.  Don't rule out these charming little arts and craft shows.  


I will continue to showcase amazing sources as I have so many that I truly love going to.   Remember, it's these simple things that make your business grow and be unique to your ability to Deliver the Unexpected.

Elizabeth Ribons, ASID, CID

Better by design is a resource for design entrepreneurs.  Whether exploring the career, solo operator of a new design business or a designer wanting to connect - this is a fabulous resource.

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