i+D - January/February 2018 - 24

Business of
Design
Design in the
Digital Age

The lesson is that "you have to pitch curated, holistic services as opposed to product
shopping," explains Harbinger. And, communicating the design and personalization process
to a client cannot be underestimated. "I get inside my client's head, understand who they are
and what they love, versus who I am. When you can sell it that way, you take away
the whole notion of big box and online [shopping]."

emotions and expectations into design solutions, overlaying their
experience and knowledge base-including the things they've
done wrong in the past. I once heard: 'Standards are documented
evidence of people's past errors'...That's what [the client is]
paying for," he explains.

Fighting the Quick-Fix Mentality by Changing the Narrative
The industry also is grappling with the quick-fix mentality that has seeped into the
consumer conscious as a result of home-makeover programs. These shows have fostered
an oversimplified, shortcut-to-design misunderstanding of the work and industry knowledge
summoned by professionals to create a customized space. Clients watch these shows
and see complete home revamps achieved in 30 minutes, not registering that "so much
of that work is done off camera and behind the scenes, which devalues the process," says
Kasper. Process is critical to interior design, but "it's such a difficult phenomenon
to sell, because it's invisible to clients."

Co-Existing and Collaborating
Design trade programs run by traditional brick-and-mortar
retailers, as well as e-commerce merchants, can serve as one
path to a fruitful, mutually beneficial relationship, according
to interviewees.

Disabusing clients of these short-cut notions of design means reeducating the public,
he adds. Kasper's firm is doing just that by changing the client conversation, and by taking
professional designers' je ne sais quoi out of the abstract for them. A designer's value lies
largely in crafting "the spaces between objects" in a home-the "placemaking," as Kasper
calls it-where sentiment and nostalgia often reside. That can only be "cultivated with
clients through discussion in order to be brought to life. Good designers translate people's

Liza Hausman,
Houzz

Phyllis Harbinger,
Harbinger Design
Consulting

Houzz, which features designer profiles and project portfolios,
while also selling goods for purchase, says its trade program
is helping the design community as it becomes more transparent
with clients about the price of products available at retail.
"One of the many ways that Houzz supports the interior design
community is through our Houzz Trade Program," says Hausman,
noting the company's "dedicated account managers reduce the
time interior designers need to spend on administrative tasks."
At the same time, notes Harbinger, online visual platforms
have brought a new ease to exchanging ideas with clients,
collaborating on design direction and making product selections.
Clients can share their ideas on virtual scrapbooking sites, like
Pinterest, for one, and others geared toward professionals, such
as Houzz Ideabooks and Wecora, where designers can share
their vision boards with clients. The site streamlines the ideation
process. "You can invite clients to the board and save yourself
multiple meetings," she adds.

(Image:
Dawn Sela
Photography)

Jason Kasper,
IDEATE
Design
Consulting

The concierge-like services from retailers, such as Room &
Board, Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel, and Lamps Plus,
that work exclusively with the design trade have been an asset
in resourcing goods per project, offering interior designers special
rates, according to Harbinger.

The design community is shifting its

Farooq Kathwari,
Ethan Allen
Interiors Inc.

messaging, placing emphasis on

(Image:
Michael
Rodgers)

the rarified, highly specialized expertise
and institutional knowledge of the
professional design trade.

24

i+D - January/February 2018



i+D - January/February 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - January/February 2018

Contents
i+D - January/February 2018 - Cover1
i+D - January/February 2018 - Cover2
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i+D - January/February 2018 - 7
i+D - January/February 2018 - 8
i+D - January/February 2018 - 9
i+D - January/February 2018 - Contents
i+D - January/February 2018 - 11
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i+D - January/February 2018 - Cover3
i+D - January/February 2018 - Cover4
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