HGTV Interior Designer Vern Yip told an engaging story during his keynote at Eye on Design 2009 at Seattle Design Center last Saturday.  As the child of Chinese parents, he knew his parents had high expectations for him.  In fact, his mother expected Vern to become a doctor.  Clearly, he took a different path that has landed him on the cover of the New York Times, as the host of “Deserving Design,” and so much more.  When a long time family friend saw Vern's photo on the front page of the New York Times, she shared it with Vern's mother.  Her reply, “But he could have been a doctor.”

We all have expectations of greatness for our children and ourselves.  The shape that takes is up to each Get Known Get Paidindividual person.  Vern has done well, and earning prominent and compelling free publicity in major media outlets has certainly opened a lot of doors.   He said earning a major design award was the ticket to his invitation to host “Trading Spaces.”

Hosting “Trading Spaces” was an opportunity to change rooms and lives in two days with a $1,000 budget at a time when people were standing in line for Vern to create award-winning designs for clients who could easily have spent that amount of money on a single lamp.  Vern's message is that design is important to how we live, and there are answers to every dilemma, no Get Known Get Paidmatter what the budget.  In today's demanding economic times, that message really resonates.

No matter the size or the scope of the problem, Vern is a true professional.  During the Q&A session immediately following his keynote, event guests asked a wide range of design questions.  One stood out as particularly memorable and repeatable.  A woman stood up to ask the best way to address a very specific design dilemma:  How to deal with a cat litter box in her living room.

The groans from the audience were audible. Without judgment, Vern asked a few probing questions.  He wondered if there was another location that would be better.  When the audience member said “no,” he went about the business of offering some practical, design suggestions to make the most of this situation.  He said something like, “How about placing the cat box under a coffee table and draping decorative fabric along three sides to hide it, while also allowing your cat access from one side?”  And, he added, be sure to address odor control so this room can be functional and livable for the people who gather there.

Another message that was just as powerful, yet unspoken is that the best professionals always take the clients where they are and guide them to where they want to go, given the resources available to get the job done.  That's quality inspiration for professionals in every niche.

In addition to delivering an inspiring keynote and moderating a panel of local design experts, Vern gave four media interviews on event day, posed for hundreds of photos, and graciously signed autographs for many.  You can read some of the stories and photos that have debuted so far at these links.

Amy Woidke's Eco-Friendly post

A Tinted Perspective's Blog Post

Stacy Kendall's Seattle Homes and Lifestyles interview – Part 1

Stacy Kendall's Seattle Homes and Lifestyles inteview – Part 2

Den Design Studio Blog Post