As you may know, we’re moving next week. Eeeek!
We’ve been going through samples and files and stuff for the last month in preparation for our new slimmed-down design studio that will only house products we want to use for the type of projects we love to work on.
Before this move, I really had to evaluate my studio and how it served me.
I have found, and I think many designers are finding the same thing, that clients these days are becoming more in tune with what they want, thanks to the internet, and really have a DIY tendency. Many want to use a designer these days, but just for a little help. They want advice. They want someone to look over their shoulder and give them a thumbs up or help them tweak things a bit to get them just right.
As you can imagine, most designers aren't partial to this type of work, especially if there is overhead, like a studio with all these lovely samples and products to use on projects. Consultation work doesn't take advantage of any of the overhead. It's purely experience that's relied upon to offer up an advice-type service and well, you don't need a studio with all the samples and products at your fingertips to do that. :-)
So, while I have built a way in my business for homeowners to use my advice and expertise with my consultancy services or my online Q&A, I, like all other designers, would love to be doing the full blown project too.
Therefore, I've kept a lot of my samples and I'm trying to manage my overhead to accommodate both full service and consultancy, so I'm hoping to be successful at offering up both.
Here's what samples we're keeping and why.
We are keeping many of our fabric books, because that enables us to keep lots of memos in these color bins. Having the books keeps the reps coming out to update us and keeps us abreast of new fabric intros, etc.
When our fabric reps come, they give a presentation, spreading all the big samples in front of us, describing the fabric, showing the colorways, going over price points, and best of all….enabling us to order memo fabrics for our color bins. That’s really the most important part of the whole thing to me because that’s how I work best, with memo samples.
Memo samples are larger pieces of the fabrics that are in the books and since they are individual samples, they can be easily tossed together with others to get a more accurate view of the combination you are creating. Of course, we can order memos from anything in our books or even in other products lines, but it’s just so convenient to have them here to start. It can give you a big boost to get a project going and you can fill in later with other fabrics or pieces you have to order.
I rarely take a fabric book out to a client to let them see a fabric. Presentations made with books are a little harder to understand and make it tough to capture the real look of the combination, due to the bulkiness of the books.
I love and treasure my color bins, where we have stashed memos from our fave vendors that we know we love. This actually keeps us from having to go to our books most of the time, but they are there if we need them and really, the reps wouldn’t likely come out if we didn’t have the books.
I do the same for wallpaper. I have big wallpaper books. But lugging books out to a home or even to lay out for a presentation is bulky and again, can invite confusion. We keep many memos of wallpaper that we have identified as patterns and colors we love, and we look there first. When you fold one of these out to see it compared with other samples for a project, it just makes a simple and more beautiful presentation as well as a more accurate method of capturing the vision of the space. :-)
This is why I need some space for a studio and I wasn’t ready to move it home or downsize even more. This collection of favorite samples creates the most efficient way to pull together a design plan. I don’t have to go shopping in the Decorative Center so often because I’ve created a mini dec center right here in my own space. The most wasteful time in the world can be spent driving in this huge city to find one or two samples to begin a project!
Wow, I didn’t realize how much paper we had around here! When I moved into this studio 7 years ago, our industry was really just going digital. Some furniture companies had decent websites but many were cumbersome and not updated regularly. At that time, we were issued furniture and lighting catalogs that I still have!
Well, had! Aaahh, look at these empty bins and shelves. :-)
These days, we go online for all our pics and info anyway, so there is really no need for bulky catalogs anymore. When I moved into this space, I had just gotten a software program, Design Manager, the year prior, and was finding it life-changing for my business. However, my hanging-onto-paper just stayed with me.
Until last weekend. :-) I’ve culled through 10+ years of client files and have ended up with about 3 file boxes to keep for awhile that are going to storage. I’m so proud of myself!
I have to say, it’s interesting to go back and see my work and some of these older projects. Here’s one below I found that made me smile.
Check out that hand lettering and drawing. This was before I had CAD and other talented people here that do amazing computer drawings for our construction documents.
Jitka leaned over my shoulder to look at it and said, “Can you still write like that?”
Ha! She’s used to trying to read my chicken scratching every day. I don’t know how she does it. Sometimes I can't even read my own writing when she can.
I want to share more on that older project in an upcoming post. I want to share what design principles and techniques I used then that I still hold onto and even write about on my blog today. It might be fun to see how I'd update it today!
Materials and styles may change, new products and technology may be introduced and become mainstream, but basic good design lives on, indefinitely.
Join me and Amanda Gates in a teleseminar this coming Monday, 2/20, as we're talking all about the color red and how to use it in an interior. We'll be sharing our top 5 favorite red paint colors for 2017! Here's how to sign up: