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Interior Design Must Go Retail- Maybe NOT!

April 19, 2010

There is a lot of talk right now about how the interior design profession must allow its suppliers to sell directly to the public. After all, designers sell retail products to their clients, so why can’t suppliers such as ourselves sell directly to those same clients? I mean, fair is fair, right?

So, I guess we will just put the design equivalent of a contractor’s desk in our showrooms for the design professionals and then have a separate sales force to handle the retail clients. “Excuse me miss, but I do not want that fabric railroaded, I want it UPS’d”. “What, you mean that just because I didn’t measure my front door and the $8,000 sofa won’t fit, it’s my fault?”  “Of course you’ll take it back, Bloomies does!”.

You know, I am not a designer, just an ordinary client involved in the design business. However I value what designers, real designers, bring to the party. They do the homework so I don’t have to think about it. They plan, they envision, they draw, they select and specify, they measure, and they consult me when it matters. They deal with late shipments, wrong shipments, mistakes, finish problems, difficult installations, problem suppliers, last minute substitutions, etc. Buying at retail is different, with different expectations. Working with a designer is like working with any other profession, and it has little or nothing to do with retail.

I like our industry. I think it needs tweaking. But I do not think it needs major surgery. I may be wrong, and if so I will accept that. But, and it is only my opinion, design is a gift in the sense that artistic talent is a gift, and our industry celebrates that. That must continue, and we must continue to give designers, and only  designers, the tools to express that gift. Period.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2011 11:15 pm

    I believe it is up to designers to educate the public and the design suppliers on what the true value of the design professional really is. It is important that everyone understands that aside from the “gift” of being able to create beautiful compositions from the multitude of options and coordination of the many different facets of any given design, that we are constantly studying our resources and what makes them good (or lousy). We are responsible for the aesthetics of the environments that we create. We are also responsible for the scientific concerns of ergonomics, sustainability, privacy, lighting and the longevity of the material choices we make. Dare I mention the designer’s ability to navigate the potentially devastating aspects of mitigating disagreements between plural decision makers as our jobs often veer into psychological concerns of our clients. It is a deeply complex profession that is all too often oversimplified by our most public disciples willing to show how entire houses can be created within an hour of “prime-time” television (even quicker if you take away the advertisements) and answer “design dilemmas” in soundbites on the printed page. It is imperative that we, as a profession, speak now to inform suppliers and the public alike as to these complexities or risk having our profession assaulted and refashioned into one of cleaning up mistake and performing “design triage” with exhausted budgets. If we are successful in evidencing the value of the design profession many of the questions about needed changes to the profession will answer themselves, we will earn the respect that we deserve, and clients will follow. We’ll be leading them to the better products in the showrooms and helping them make well considered choices.

  2. May 17, 2010 12:03 am

    What a great article. I saw a portion of this on http://www.NiermannWeeks.com website and wanted to read the whole thing and I’m glad I did. Not only is this something that I tell clients, it will be a great handout tool.
    I also wanted to say I can’t wait to read your blog, in the short time I have been here I have already seen lots of great information.
    Thank you.
    Vicki Bergelt
    Vicki Bergelt Interior Design
    Scottsdale, AZ

    • crans permalink
      May 20, 2010 8:39 pm

      Thanks. All of my ideas are from designers, for designers. Please feel free to make suggestions!

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