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These days—especially when it comes to high-end residential projects—non-disclosure agreements are, as interior designer David Scott puts it, “as commonplace as Ubers and Starbucks.” So much so, in fact, that several architects and designers asked by T&C to comment on the increasing ubiquity of decorator NDAs wouldn’t comment—or, in one case, would only do so anonymously. Some did, however, speak on the record, and they have some constructive advice for the extremely private.

No Dogs Allowed

Scott was once asked to sign an NDA that extended to the clients’ pets. That’s a no-go. You should limit demands to the classics, says acclaimed French architect and interior designer Robert Couturier: “You won’t divulge who you’re working for, how much money they spend, or where they live. Often you have to have all your subcontractors sign one as well.”

Manage Your Ego

“NDAs make sense when it’s a matter of security, when a family could be threatened,” Couturier says. “It’s incredibly irritating, though, when it’s for a society woman who posts photos of herself waking up in the morning and thrives on notoriety.”

Beware of Social Media

“For one client,” Couturier says, “I had to go through my Instagram account and erase pictures that I had taken of the construction site. He had flipped through thousands of posts trying to find those of his job site. That must have taken him hours. I think people have an incredibly inflated opinion of themselves.”

Call It The Michael Cohen Statue

One architect who asked to remain anonymous so as not to jeopardize high-profile projects pleads with clients not to get him involved with law enforcement. “Sometimes,” the architect says, “NDAs ask for restrictions on disclosing information that seem as if they were written by someone trying to hide something from Robert Mueller!”

Leave No Paper Trail

“Many NDAs have archaic language from the days of paper files that doesn’t seem relevant any longer, such as a commitment to destroy all copies if asked,” says the anonymous architect. “This is nearly impossible in a digitally backed-up era.”

Trust Matters

Some NDAs are too demanding. Adjust accordingly. “When documents become so one-sided that they tip away from reasonable restrictions,” says the architect, “you really start to wonder about the intent of the person on the other side.”

Couturier asks, “If a client doesn’t trust his or her designer to protect him, what’s the point of working together?”

Attribution: Town and Country Magazine- April 2019

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