One of the many benefits of any industry is being associated with industry networks. They are a tapestry of professionals young and old filled with experience and valuable knowledge that can help you grow as an individual and professional. I am involved in many professional network groups for professional interior designers. One in particular is a nationwide association of over 2500 professional interior designers. In todays day and age networks like these no longer meet once a year but rather have online private groups with instant access. On any day a designer can go into this private network of designers and get instant access to knowledge. This association has incredible value. Not only does it teach your designer (the one you may be working with) the best practices in our industry but it also gives access to resources, trades, ethics and business practices at the touch of a button. So when you tell your designer, “I would love to have a vintage American of Martinsville chest in my entry”, your designer can hit the leaderboard and potentially have information to you within 24 hours. This has value. We can also discuss manufacturers, quality issues, trends, and provide support that once was not available. This too has value. And so does the plethora of other skills we possess to manage your project.
Lately though, many designers are starting to see clients want to take the reins and manage their own projects. Handling their own trades, finding their own products and installing their own jobs all in an effort to save money. So we have shifted our paradigms to work with the needs of our clients to give them what they want……..but the sh*t is hitting the fan. Thanks to the internet and TV shows homeowners have become disillusioned that with a few thousand dollars and a quick thirty minutes an entire house can be swiftly and easily redone. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Rather than discussing how we’ve transformed our clients lives with beautiful homes, more than ever before the leaderboards are blowing up on topics of how to best help their clients get out of their messes. You know the one that was saving them money. Most homeowners have absolutely no idea how difficult a home project can be and acting as a guidance counselor we can only offer so much. Whether redecorating or blowing out the master bath designers know exactly how to navigate the waters,aka: the trades, vendors, products and all the moving parts. (Trust you, me…there are SO MANY moving parts) Case in point. I recently had a client hire me as her guidance counselor for a 2500 ft addition. Six months into the project her refrigerator busted and flooded the whole house (because she moved it to another room and didn’t properly hook it up.) This lead to flooring, cabinet and furniture damage. Her kitchen floors arrived in the wrong color because she transposed ONE number on the invoice, making this her error not the tile company. And finally, she could not finish the remodel of her bathroom because her tub had been picked up by her plumber……who was arrested for a DUI and in jail. Her three thousand dollar soaker tub had been sold on craigslist as bail money and the plumber skipped town……….Seriously folks, I can’t make this stuff up.
Interestingly enough, no matter how many people I discuss the pitfalls with, its always the same: “Oh it will never happen to me, and I have PLENTY of time to manage it”. Today, Shanaz Razik, one of our avid leader board contributors wrote a terrific article on “Why Everybody Cannot Do The Job Of An Interior Designer”. You can find her Dutch blog here, and below is her article in english:
Tuesday evening. I was looking forward to playing a tennis match. The opponent I was yet to meet. As it turns out she was quite a lovely lady. We got along well and had a good game. I lost but it was close. Halfway into the game she asked me what I do for a living. Her reaction when I told her I am an interior designer surprised me. “Oh, do people still need that? Anybody can do your job with the internet these days” I did appreciate her honesty. She put into words what perhaps many are thinking. And she gave me a blog topic and above all the time to prove her wrong. I forgot all about losing!
Do you bake your own bread or do you go to the bakery?
Anyone can do anyone’s job. I can bake my own bread, demolish a wall and do my own accounting. If I want to I am sure I can diagnose my illness and get some medication specially these days on the internet! But just because I can, does it mean I should? Or can I do it as well as someone who is qualified to do this job with education and/or experience? Just because I can put some ingredients together and bake bread doesn’t mean it will be as good or as well put together as the one from the bakery? As a colleague interior designer Rona Spiegel told me “Anyone can buy furniture and put it in a room but only a designer can design that space”
Time, time and time …
Even if you can do someone else’s job does it mean that you have the time to do it? Or can you do it as fast as someone who is trained to do it on a daily basis? I recently had a client who after spending several weekends looking for an original sculpture with his wife, asked me to source it for him. He told me that although it might sound ridiculous to ask me to source a sculpture, ultimately a small job, he was sure that I could do it in less time than he could. I didn’t disappoint him. I was able to provide him with several sources within 30 minutes. What is 30 minutes compared to their two lost weekends? What is 30 minutes of my time compared to their time taken off, not working, away from their children? Everybody has a speciality. There is usually a very good reason for it!
What do you need knowledge and experience for?
Let’s imagine that you have plenty of time and you do manage to put a space together. Imagine you are convinced that you have a great design, after all “les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas” taste nor colour cannot be discussed. Do you still have the knowledge or the experience to deliver a project?
A job of an interior designer as glamorous as it may sound has many practical aspects to it.
Yes, we design, we come up with amazing ideas and we choose colours and textures, we shop for furniture and accessories, and we come up with these amazing design concepts that you couldn’t dream of …
Did you also know that we need to be knowledgeable of the technical aspects of a renovation? Know the detailing of all the work involved? Which fabric can be used where in which width? How do you finish off a wall seamlessly without cracks?
Did you know, we should also be able to follow up on the work of an electrician, plumber, painter and general contractor? Be able to manage different types of personalities? One job can have up to 20 trades at one time! Starting from the client to the general contractor to the manufacturer in Italy who is making your chair, we have to get all these trades in sync to deliver your project on time and on budget!
That brings me to the next thing we do: manage your budget. We have to make sure that the thousands of dollars you are pumping into the project is put to the maximum use and you get the best quality, best service, and best product possible for the money you are investing. Most clients have no idea what home products cost…leading you in costly mistakes without the guidance of a professional.
Can everyone do the job of an interior designer?
Sure, just like anyone can be an accountant, attorney or mechanic. But just because you have all the parts, do want to build your own car? At the end of the tennis match my opponent certainly didn’t think so. One person educated, many more to go. Do you think I could do your job as well as you do?