Karen Fisher, The Design Matchmaker

Picture what you envision as the perfect house, the perfect restaurant, the perfect office. Now feel what it would be like to walk through and experience it. A Guggenheim-esque staircase, a smoothly styled dining area that feels fresh and contemporary, an office that evokes feelings of both functional purpose and spatial freedom.  In the age of instant 

One of the top consultants in the industry of turning striking visions into reality is Karen Fisher.  Founder of the Manhattan based consulting firm Designer Previews, Fisher has written six books on design and contributed to numerous publications on the communication and ubiquitous technology, such transcendent visions and feelings need not remain dreams. Connecting with an international array of top architects and interior designers that suit your taste are just a click away.

“When I started Designer Previews in 1985, designers would have full showrooms where you would go and review their work,” said Fisher in a recent interview. “This wasn’t always an option for all designers to do.  But the internet changed that.” Fisher initially built her clientele in New York City until the advent of the internet began a decade after she started consulting expanded the reach of her abilities.  With online showrooms replacing relatively impractical brick and mortar disp

“I backed into the field,” said Fisher.  “My first job after I graduated from Columbia University, where I was a History major — very helpful on 7th Avenue — was at Woman’s Wear Daily.  In many ways, I was in the right place at the right time.” Writing on the topic of interior design naturally led to inquires from readers who wanted what they saw in the magazines. “When I first started consulting,” continued Fisher, “it was at a time when people were stopping rentals and started buying.  People were investing more in a place they owned than in a place they rented.”  Her consulting became a three step process.lay centers, the accessibility of portfolios from all over the world made it easier for international clients and designers to find each other, a far cry from Designer Previews’ humble beginnings

Step one is an interview with a client. “It’s hard for a layperson to take a high-rise apartment and put their own stamp on it,” said Fisher. “This will be happening at the same time that more furnishings are available to the general public.  But even when they can get the sofa, the client doesn’t know where to place it. It’s like writing or painting — it looks easy until you try it. I sit down or speak on the phone with a client. We’ll determine if they are looking to completely renovate, look at and discuss the floor plan, and consider the extent of work they’d like to have done.”

 Step two is an overview of what is available to clients. “After we’ve established the extent a client wants to revamp,” Fisher continued, “we’ll look at a slideshow of design styles. This is where we’ll determine what a client likes and what they want in terms of style.”

The final step is a look at individual designer portfolios. “Once a client selects a particular style they like, I’ll show them a minimum of three portfolios of designers that work in the style they are interested in. Once the client selects a favorite, I’ll make the introduction.” The connections Fisher provides are not limited to any geographical area either.  The sky is essentially the limit.

“Today, I can connect a client from China with a designer in Miami or I can connect a client from Atlanta with a designer in South America, which obviously wasn’t as possible when I started.” When considering the direction of design trends over the next decade, Fisher contemplates changes in design trends and industry with similar perspective and adaptability.

“Over the next decade, I see the interior design industry becoming more important. Particularly in urban areas where the architecture is so forbidding that a designer is needed to warm a space and make it more inviting and individual.  The style trend in the design world is going to design following architecture. In the city with high rises, a soft contemporary will be the new traditional. Clients want the comfort of traditional without the maintenance and the detailing and the fuss. But clearly traditional will never go away. Where people buy traditional homes, period furniture will still have a place.”

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Kay Fernandez

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