How to live with a designer without killing them

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

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

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

“The idea for the book came about because my wife kept on telling my friends how awful I am to live with,” says Long. “We had building work done recently and the second 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 book is aimed at both designers who are able to take the piss out of themselves, and their long-suffering, non-designer partners who have to live with them day-in-day-out. “If you’re working, living or going out with a designer there’s a certain amount of baggage you’re going to have to live with,” says Long. “The book gives an insight into how to accept us just as we are.”

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

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

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

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

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

Hide Comments (6)Show Comments (6)
  • Andi November 20, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Are we designers really such a cliche?

    I’ve been a designer for 20 years and yes, I see beauty in mundanity (that may be the photographer in me) but I don’t care about craft beer or precise slicing.

    I’ve only seen the pages shown in this article, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t agree with many of the other cliches undoubtedly presented in the other pages.

    And, surely saying you’re attracted to all things cool is the very description of uncool?

    Finally though, I do agree with the author’s claim that designers pick up on things that aren’t quite right – such as the contents of a book failing to reflect its title…

    • Sue November 25, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      Agreed. But as a junior designer, I do see myself quite obsessive with the precise thing, hopefully it will get better as I go along.

  • Jon November 22, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    All the above. Oh, and there’s a typo in the craft beer spread.

    • Tom November 23, 2017 at 3:33 am

      What is the typo? Metre is right.

      • Simon Thomas December 6, 2017 at 9:39 am

        The typo is ‘it’s’

  • Dave December 19, 2017 at 8:51 am

    The typo is `it’s’

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