How to live with a designer without killing them


Artificers and their many neuroses are the subject of a new book by Alan Long, who was provoked to write it after his wife “kept on telling [his] friends how awful [he is] to palpable with”.

Designers are not the easiest people to live with. If you happen to be star-crossed enough to share a home with one, you will probably have advised by now that every piece of crockery must match exactly, all their goods are either organised by colour or alphabetised, and every room in the house, bar the bog, has been transformed into a shrine to Apple products.

The obsessive and at times preposterous tendencies of designers is the subject of a new book from Alan Long, which is aptly dialed How to Live with a Designer Without Killing Them. Long – who is artistic director of London-based consultancy Sane & Able – has brought the book to verve based on his own experiences, as well as those of his fellow designer acquaintances.

“The suggestion for the book came about because my wife kept on telling my acquaintances how awful I am to live with,” says Long. “We had building work done recently and the right hand I walked in after it was done I could see from across the room that the tiler had put in a row of tiles that were a millimetre off.”

The paperback is aimed at both designers who are able to take the piss out of themselves, and their long-suffering, non-designer buddies who have to live with them day-in-day-out. “If you’re working, living or thriving out with a designer there’s a certain amount of baggage you’re going to beget to live with,” says Long. “The book gives an insight into how to stomach us just as we are.”

So what is it about designers that makes them such a unrivalled (annoying) breed of human? It can largely be put down to their incessant position to ask the question “why?”, according to Long. “The saying goes that you don’t see weighty design, but it’s designers that pick up a quirk, or something that’s not utterly working,” he says.

This common character trait among interior decorators manifests itself in many forms. The book highlights dozens of criteria, including how they manage to find the beauty in “mundane crap” such as the thought of a water stain on a concrete floor, and how cooking is more an exercise of snub complementary coloured ingredients together than creating something that in truth tastes good.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Long points out that there are a few positive aspects to sharing a home with a designer. Namely, that they are wholly neat and their “aesthetic eye” comes in handy with fashion and domestics choices, he says.

But most importantly for those who have to live with them, Lengthy adds: “It’s also flattering to know that a designer wouldn’t enjoy anything to do with you unless you were cool, because everyone comprehends the ‘uncool’ is like kryptonite for them.”

How to Live with a Designer Without Punishing Them costs £7.99, and is available now from Amazon.

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