“So, I want the shed in this location, and the pool should be over here and shaped like this. With the path, I want…..”- All too common, these are words spoken by new clients as they sit with their designer. What’s wrong with this?

There is a term you may be unfamiliar with, and not too flattering, a CAD Monkey.

This is a person who can use Computer-Aided Design software to create your design, who has no real creative input. They are told what to ‘draw’ on the computer. I remember the first time I heard it, when Nick, one of my landscape architects who was working for me, said something like, “oh, he is just a CAD Monkey”.

A professional designer will go to college/uni for up to 5 years to study the art of landscape design. Then they will learn on the job for years to learn the trade firsthand. An experienced designer is worth their salt!

Okay, so before I lose you, what is the difference?

A designer is a creative person who evokes ideas and offers solutions to achieve the outcome you desire. A CAD Monkey simply does as they are told.

Many clients are unaware that they are holding the designers hat when they say, “I think this should go there and be this size and that texture and….” – they are evoking the creative juices to bring to life their future garden. Now nothing wrong with this, except when you bypass the designer and don’t allow them to do their job.

So how should this work?

Client says, “I would like a concrete pool around 8 by 4m”

Designer, “Lovely. Would you like a pool in full sun to capture the warmth, or would you like a little dappled shade from a tree over one end?”

Client, “A little shade would be lovely.”

Designer, “your daughter is 3 years old, so would you like a beach-entry (very shallow entry area) on one end for her to safely play in with you?”

And this keeps going…

It isn’t that a client having ideas is bad, of course not, some of the best ideas come from the clients. The problem is that, when you hold the hat of the designer and they don’t get to wear it, you turn your designer into a CAD Monkey, someone who will just do what you say.

You are paying $1000’s, so allow the designer to do their job and inspire you.

Now let me share with you who are the worst culprits of this, yes, its you guys, men!

My male clients (not all) have a tendency towards a need to understand the technical details. They need to feel in-the-know. A man never wants to look like he doesn’t have at least some on-par knowledge with their designer. Where generally, my female clients are happy to be offered ideas they haven’t thought of, and then run with it and enhance it.

You know, it’s the old cliche of, “so, whats under the hood?” – men are supposed to know its 6 or 8 cylinders and has this or that. And real men drive manuals, right? We have to know. Can I please suggest to you men, let your designer guide you, don’t try to outshine them with your newly gained wisdom.

Now if you are one of the few couples who want to be in charge and direct your designer the whole way, engage a low cost designer and that’s totally fine. But if you are wanting to be inspired, ask your designer, “so what would you suggest?”

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