Virtual design is here, and it’s not going anywhere. Thank goodness. We’ve all been stuck at home staring at the dated curtains, the old sofa, and the frayed rug. We can’t get to the gym and are sick of working at the kitchen counter while the kids run in and out of our Zoom meetings.
Who are you going to call? An interior designer, of course!
If there was ever a time we need their help, it’s now. You can’t just pop up to Nebraska Furniture Mart and easily browse. Even when you can, it’s going to be a long time before most of us feel comfortable in a large store. The virtual design model is not that new. Interior designers have always done a considerable amount of work remotely because they have clients all over the place. I reached out to three of our mover and shaker interior designers to see what’s going on.
Kim Armstrong Interiors
“I have a service called Inbox, and it’s been a smooth transition to go from that to virtual design. [Before the coronavirus], I used to meet with clients in person, take measurements, and go over ideas. Then I emailed them their package of what to order, placement of furniture, and accessories. They had a finished design package, and they procured the items on their own. Now I just do a FaceTime meeting, and clients send me measurements.
We can both be on the computer at the same time and do everything virtually. I draw out the floor plan, and we double check measurements. Sometimes I have fabric samples mailed. I do a concept board, then send directions because I do some custom elements. I get my clients connected to the workroom. It’s kind of design by numbers!
I just booked a project in Houston and one in Arkansas. So, yes, while I love the in-person element and can’t wait to get back to it, at the same time working virtually is very effective and efficient.”
Janelle Burns – Maestri Studios
“We have always worked remotely, so this has not been a challenge. It’s been much easier than you’d think, even though it’s taken everyone by surprise. We usually have clients in and out of the studio for plan reviews, consultations, and to look at samples. Now we do Zoom and phone meetings. I’ll order samples sent directly to the client, instead of dropping them off. Vendors are still shipping products. We are guiding the client, and they’ve become more hands-on.
I think as far as meetings go, clients are enjoying them. Not having to drive anywhere is an advantage. I think we will see requests for online meetings continue because it’s become an acceptable way to do business. People are comfortable with the technology now.
High Point Market was canceled, and I can’t tell you how amazing it’s been. The showrooms and vendors have responded by doing virtual meetings. They walk us through the showroom and tell us about the new products. It’s almost better and more informative this way. I appreciate how everyone in the industry has embraced working in a new way.”
Emily Larkin – EJ Interiors
People are open to virtual design. They have limited resources right now, so an interior designer can help enormously. We can order and ship things and make a lot of progress with minimal contact.
There has been a small learning curve, teaching clients how to measure correctly, because we need multiple measurements. But clients are seeing the complicated aspects of design and the value of the designer.
We have done a lot of work remotely using Zoom. People are focusing on their homes right now because they have spent a lot more time there during the shelter in place order. They want multi-function rooms and pretty spaces. We’ve had a lot of calls about home offices and gyms. Patios are a major deal right now. People want a livable outdoor space.
I think this time we’ve spent at home makes people realize your designer doesn’t even have to live in the same city or even the same state. We just started a project in New Jersey, for instance. A lot can be accomplished virtually!