The Rise of E-Design and its Implications for Interior Designers
E-Design: Why Is It Gaining Popularity? And Should Interior Designers Get In On The Trend?
Op-Ed Written by Ivy Designer Chaney Widmer, founder of Mix & Match Design Company
There’s no doubt that the Internet has had an impact on just about every industry over the past couple of decades, and interior design is no exception. These days, beautiful spaces are a simple click away thanks to the rise in popularity of sites like Pinterest and Houzz, social media platforms like Instagram, and networks like HGTV. People are itching to create a home that looks like what they see online or on TV, and while some can do it on their own, many find that taking those inspiration images and turning them into reality isn’t all that easy. Constraints on time, money, and skills leave a lot of folks looking for help, yet traditional, full-service design feels out of reach or doesn’t quite fit their needs.
So where do they turn?
Enter online interior design – also known as “e-design.” This type of service offers clients access to the expertise of a designer in a way that’s tailored to a tech-savvy, budget-conscious, do-it-yourself generation. These are folks who are willing to be active participants in the process – handling many of the logistical aspects like measuring their space, ordering the items, and installation – while the designer puts the look together and provides tools for them to be able to carry it out. It’s fast and fun for the client, and the result is an affordable, professionally designed space.
The emergence and growth of e-design would not be possible, however, if consumers weren’t comfortable using online services or purchasing furniture online. Couple those consumer trends with the availability of the right technology and tools, and boom! You have an entirely new industry to meet the needs of a previously unreached segment of the population.
Additionally, interior designers (or aspiring ones!) are seeing the benefits of offering Internet-based services including the opportunity to reach a broader audience of potential clients, the flexibility of running an online business, low overhead costs, and a streamlined workflow.
All of those factors were key in my decision to start my online interior design business, Mix & Match Design Company, in 2015. I built my business around meeting the needs of well-informed clients who recognize they can’t pull together the look they want for their home on their own and want the help of a designer, but also don’t want to break the bank. As one of my clients once put it, “This is a do it WITH me service, not a do it FOR me service.” It’s important to help clients understand that and set expectations about what e-design is and isn’t since for many, it’s a completely new concept.
Now let’s address one question I’ve heard discussed quite often: will e-design ever take the place of full-service design?
In a word, no. There will always be demand for full-service, luxury design and it’s important to recognize the distinctions between the two target client segments and business models. The occasional client may waffle between full-service design and e-design, but I rarely see it in my target demographic and believe that e-designers should spend their energy targeting “untapped” clients who would not typically call a traditional designer. The industry is changing though, and interior designers should consider how e-design could enhance their offering and open up new client segments.
If you are currently a full-service interior designer, what would it look like to add an e-design arm? Or are there ways you could integrate some of aspects of e-design into your current business model to adapt to the industry changes and trends we’re seeing in consumer behavior?
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong business model – it all comes back to defining who your ideal client is, and then building a brand to attract them and creating a service that will serve them well. Offering online interior design services is one strategy if you’re looking to offer services to a different type of client. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want to incorporate that in your business.
Are you currently considering starting an e-design business?
If so, I’m here to help! I’ll be releasing a self-paced online course in early 2018 titled “How To Launch An E-Design Business.” I’ll take you through my journey, teach you about the world of e-design, help you figure out your business model, talk about how to get clients in the door, and walk you step-by-step through the nuts and bolts of e-design. You can read more about the course and sign up to receive email updates on this page of my website.
Here at Ivy, we’re more than just an interior design software. Our mission is to provide interior designers with the community, resources and tools needed to manage your business beautifully. Are you searching for a business management tool to help streamline your workflow as an interior designer?