KBB - January 2015 - (Page 16)
Entrepreneurs' innovative design apps
Claiming that the Internet is the consumers' frontier of choice is an
understatement. Clients are spending vast amounts of time researching,
prioritizing, budgeting and ultimately purchasing goods and services
online, and it's encouraging to note that more design and furniture companies are staking their claim. But with the speed in which consumerbuying behavior is changing, there is always the challenge to continually discover new ways to harness innovation and sell. For some that
means going mobile.
"The combined revenues from mobile applications, services and
business management will reach $54.6 billion a year by 2015," according to Forrester Research analyst John C. McCarthy in The New York
Times. Entrepreneur's "4 Reasons Your Startup Needs to Launch a Mobile App Now" projects that mobile subscriptions will hit 9.3 billion in
2019. That means more small to mid-size businesses will be getting in on
the action. Looking at these staggering numbers tells us that although
investing in mobile may seem a bit overreaching for some, it may also
be the one investment you cannot afford not to make.
Proponents of developing a mobile platform will tell you that apps
broaden their customer demographics, build engagement and promote
products and services. With that in mind, we've interviewed four innovative design entrepreneurs - all small business owners - who've ventured
into mobile and are successfully driving their businesses forward.
Tiffany Wilson, creator of RoomHints
How it works: Snap a picture of a room on your phone, type in an item
you would like to add or replace - for instance, "dining table." RoomHints
then uses an advanced algorithm to give you ﬁve options in the style
you'd like updated or changed. Simply hit "buy" or "save" if you like any of
the options shown. Don't like the ﬁrst set of product offerings? Search for
ﬁve new options and so on until you've landed on the one you want. You
can also ask a RoomHints design pro to help ﬁnalize your room design.
website and translate it to a mobile app. This is similar to recording a radio show and putting it on a TV show. Understand the native features of
mobile and build the app based on these beneﬁts that mobile enables.
What is the most rewarding part about having a mobile app
Wilson: The ability to reach global scale. Each day on RoomHints.com
we see thousands of rooms being uploaded from all around the world. We
have built a platform that for example, allows a designer in New York to give
design advice to a user in Saudi Arabia - now that in my mind is awesome!
For more info:
Kevin Litt, COO of Adornably
How it works: Adornably lets you replace or add furniture in any
space to create a design look and feel you want. Place an object - like
a magazine - where you want to add a piece of furniture to a room. The
magazine helps scale any furniture you'll be adding. Take a photo, then
choose from a selection of furnishings from within the app, moving the
object within the app and around the room to help personalize the home
What do you think has been the most disruptive shift in the
design industry in the past ﬁve years?
Litt: Disruption is a big buzzword today, but I prefer to call it innovation.
I believe we're in the midst of the most dynamic shift our industry has ever
witnessed. We've seen a complete shift away from retail as we know it,
and new entrants have been able to take over a market in record time. I
believe the changes that will take place over the next decade (production, logistics, marketing and distribution) might be more disruptive than
those over the past 10 years.
Do you think our contemporaries in the furniture and design
industry understand the extent of what has happened?
Wilson: I was working as an interior designer in New York and found
that every time I would go out for dinner or to an event, people would
ask, "How should I design my space?" "Do you know of a good coffee
table that would work for my living room," etc. I realized that a mobile application would be perfect to help solve this problem. They can upload
a photo of their room and chat with a designer any time of day. So we
built RoomHints. The user uploads a photo of their room, ﬁnds and saves
products that work and can hire an interior designer to ﬁnalize the look
- in one app.
Litt: I think as a whole, the design industry has done a poor job of reacting to systemic changes in the market. There are many execs reacting,
but it's hard to move quickly in this business given legacy concerns. Unfortunately, it's not an enviable position to be in - knowing you must make
changes to survive - but the transition is going to make a lot of people very
upset. As one CEO put it years ago to me, "We'll see what happens with
this Internet." He believed deep in his heart there was no way home furnishings would be sold online. There is no way to go back and take digital
distribution away, nor would we ever want to, but we should not forget that
consumers still love an experience, and those who are able to provide an
enjoyable experience and add value will continue to ﬁnd success.
Any advice for those of us who are thinking of creating an app?
What can the industry learn from Silicon Valley?
Wilson: Keep it simple. The best apps have one beneﬁt that they provide for their users. Do not simply take the content that is existing on your
Litt: What I've been most impressed with is tech companies' ability
to pivot. In new technology, pivots are expected and allow companies
Why did you decide to create a mobile app for the industry?
January 2015 / www.kbbonline.com / The Ofﬁcial Sponsor of KBIS www.kbis.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - January 2015
Show Director’s Note
People & Places
Before and After
KBIS 2015 and Design & Construction Week
The Glamorous Life
New Lines, New Look
KBB - January 2015