Just curious - if you had a friend who worked for a designer (which shall remain nameless), would you ever ask her to use her employee discount for you? She is not a retail employee, but an executive in the company, if that makes any difference.
yes, only if it's a very-very close friend and you would do the same for her. Otherwise, I think in most retailers the employees can get into serious trouble for using their discount for other people, so the person might be very hesitant if you are not very close, which can obviously turn out awkward.
I would only take advantage of a discount if it was offered to me. I told a coworker I was planning to buy a new laptop in the fall and she said her husband worked at Apple and I could use his discount. Score! But ... I never would have approached her and asked.
It depends on the friend. I had a two friends in college, one worked at NM, the other worked at Nordstrom. The NM friend let me use her discount ALL the time. She was very carefree about it. But the Nordstrom friend, I would have never even ASKED! She was kinda cheap (with everything... one time she even asked me to contribute $20 to my own christmas present!) and always talking about the commission rate that she earned. So I guess it depends on your relationship with the friend.