• Designing,  Tangible Intangibles

    Paying Attention to Your Sensory Landscape

     

     

    I’ve been following the blog by Ingrid Fetell Lee for awhile now: The Aesthetics of Joy. .http://www.aestheticsofjoy.com

    As a designer, she has mind provoking thoughts on the power of bringing joy into our worlds and thereby upgrading our lives.  Ms. Fetell published her book Joy last year in September about how to find that joy in so many ways,  changing our perceptions and perspective.http://www.aestheticsofjoy.com/the-book/.

    In her Joy Letter this month, she discussed  crossmodal perception – which opened my mind to concepts I think I was unconsciously aware of but now will certainly strive to see all around me.  It deals with how one sense affects another. A certain light filtering through in the morning can evoke a smell memory of raspberries ripening in the sun.  The touch of a soft chunky throw on a couch become more luxurious with the strains of Chopin playing in the background.  The taste of food is heightened with the sound of the crunch in the ingredient or the bright fresh colors on the plate. The taste of whiskey was tested by 400 volunteers in three separate environments which proved the setting where they sipped the liquor brought different flavors to the forefront of the same whiskey.  Of course there is a whole branch of  interior design dedicated to restaurant decor with just this concept in mind.  Herein lies the hopes that the right environment can make the food and drink taste even better. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/10/scienceshot-where-should-i-drink-my-whiskey

    We are more than our individual five senses.  We were gifted with the interaction of the senses.  This is our sensory landscape.  If we take a moment to zero in on all around us we will perceive how the pieces fit into our lives.  Does a chair fit you and bring you joy to sit in it a little longer?  Does your silverware irritate you because it’s too light in weight or the edges too sharp on the handle.  Does the glass coffee table get in the way as you walk through your room, making your chores  seem a little harder.  Does the mishmash of clothing spilling out of your closet make you feel deprived and poor because your eye is confused and can’t see any coordination there?  These aren’t small things to brush off.  They are an accumulation  of joy or irritants that bring you happiness or bring you down incrementally.

    As design professionals, these become discussion points with clients.  What can you discern about their discomforts and how can you inject joy into their lives.  Instead of papering the walls or choosing a paint color,  drill down on the joys and irritations of their present living.  Perhaps a purge or re-setting of a space plan is in order first.  Marie Kondo them https://konmari.com/ and discover what and why they are holding onto things that are clouding their sensory environment.  Lead them to the light.  Help them to feel their underlying nuanced senses and then design from them.  Many of us have developed our tastes due to what others have concocted in magazine pages or someone else’s house.  If we choose  design by how things feel, smell, and exude joyful micro emotions, the happiness we inject into our own and other’s lives will reverberate out exponentially into the world.

  • Business

    The Tax Dilemma

    Remember the moment?  It was an absolute light bulb moment, full of electric excitement.  You and your best friend looked at each other and just knew you were meant to go into business together.  You meshed.  You had the same taste and outlook on design.  She was strong in color knowledge, you had depth in business knowledge and design.  You knew you were meant to do this!

  • Business,  Do It Yourself,  Tools to Use

    Word of the Year: Clear

    Is your desk clear, your home clear, your path clear, your head…Well you can see how interconnected being clear is in our lives. Mine should be clear but so often it is just not. I am organized at heart. Everything has a file folder with a laminated label. I have tools for EVERYTHING and they may have migrated at times, but I generally can find them. My office has built-in bookcases and a window seat with storage and under cabinets with storage. I have no excuse to not be spot on in the organization department.

  • Color Study

    Studying Color

     

    What is often a startling fact when first learning about color is the objects we see aren’t really composed of the colors we see. That green velvet chair you so love isn’t of itself really green. It has absorbed all the colors of our visible spectrum EXCEPT those that make up the green color.  So how does that work?

  • Business,  Marketing

    Tariffs and Textiles in Interior Design

    As an interior designer, workroom or anyone else in the trade, have you recently received a notice from your fabric sources about needing to raise the prices of goods due to the new tariffs on imported textiles?  What was your immediate reaction?  Did your mind go straight to how your bottom line would be affected?  Did you worry how to charge that much more to your clients?

    On September 26th, I received the email from Lee Silberman CEO of the Robert Allen Duralee group:

    As you may have seen in the news, beginning on Monday, September 24, 2018, the US Trade Representative’s office imposed a 10% tariff on virtually all Chinese textiles coming into the US. If no agreement between the US and China is reached by January 1, it has been stated by our government that the tariff will go up to 25%. As a result, effective September 24, 2018, The Robert Allen Duralee Group has raised prices on those items impacted by this tariff…

    It is important to note that our price adjustments are dollar for dollar the same amount as the actual cost of the government-imposed tariff to us. It is possible in the future that some drapery hardware from Paris Texas Hardware and The Finial Company may be affected by the tariff as well.

     

    (sigh….)  And so it starts.  Who gets the ultimate tax increase?  Our customers do, most likely.  Change is pain but it can be other things as well.  It could be the beginning of a do-over stating that, yes, we have given the Chinese the opportunity and the technology and the responsibility and American jobs and billions of dollars to supply us with manufactured goods, but it has backfired on us.  In many cases, they have abused the opportunity by stealing technology that we haven’t given them, ignored our patent rights and bullied us with it. We have taken employment for Americans and given the jobs to Chinese.  In the meantime, we have been losing the training and knowledge our people used to have to manufacture textiles as well as facilities and machinery to keep up.  Maybe we need to figure out how to get it back.

  • Business

    Competition in Interior Design

    WHAT SETS YOU APART?

    We are in a very competitive occupation- not that others aren’t… But, when a client hires us, one of the first things they want to know – and may not even ask – is what sets us apart from any other designer.

    Many of us are hesitant to laud our own praises.  Early on in life, we may have been directed not to brag.  Or, (hopefully not) we may have been bullied and been put down when we spoke up. Some of us seek out the attention of being on center stage, but the majority of us don’t.

  • Color Study,  History

    The Intoxicating, Provocative World of Color

    One might say our world was birthed in color, saturated with it, embellished by it.  It’s part of the DNA of the planet arriving to us by frequencies.  Color excites, or it calms.  It stimulates our appetite and warms our mood.  We have sought just the right color by crushing insects and mollusks to produce crimson and purple.  Green plants have revealed their secret of the perfect blue after being fermented through stages of yellow, then green,  then blue into deep sensuous indigo.  Precious lapis lazuli stones carried thousands of miles have arrived at their destination to be crushed into pigment and painted onto canvas.

    Egyptian mummies of dead people and cats came under the alchemists crushing tools to formulate a perfect brown.  On and on the quest for the perfect color was been pursued to simulate what was already seen around us.  Humans apparently were not disposed to simply enjoy looking at their environments and enjoying the sights.  No, they wanted to be the creators and capture the beauty with their own hands.

  • Business,  Tools to Use

    Invoicing Design Clients with Ease

     

    “Flow”  “Workflow”…Words that summon up ease and elegance in our daily routine of running an interior design business.  But more often than not looks like someone walking six various size dogs down a narrow busy sidewalk.  We’re human.  We get out of sync.  Were busy.  We have clients who haven’t been trained to not call after 8:00 pm.  We’re tired…

    Enter Interior Design project management software.  Let’s face it, by the time we sit down to the computer to enter various charges at the end of the day, who can blame us for forgetting to add taxes or shipping.  Those 10 little dohickies that were listed as only one on the invoice – how did that happen?  You included a gorgeous picture of the couch that was just purchased with the close-up photo of the fabric and the dimensions – all the specifications.  It looked so professional.  But…you forgot your hours… (maybe it was that second glass of wine).  Don’t you need those prompts at the end of the day?  Even if you have an assistant that takes care of things, there can be so many details lost in translation.  It’s embarrassing to have to re-invoice with corrections or send multiple invoices.  Clients get confused, put off or just plain scared as to what might be next.

    Project management software should put the flow into your work, cut down or cut out multiple copies of paperwork or at the least multiple post-it notes stuck all over. Look for software that can do the following:

    It should track deposits on proposals and the resulting deductions for purchases, as well as charging for items beyond the deposit.

    Larger items in a project should be able to be broken down into components and tracked then billed as one easy to understand charge to the client.

    It should guarantee nothing will slip through the cracks, especially the peripheral expenses like shipping or taxes or the cost of samples.

    Providing a set formula for charging with your markups, discounts and fees can save you time and confusion for you and your clients.

    The software should supply an accrual method of accounting in order to give an accurate overall financial picture of your business.  It will allow you to see the progress of a job and when you invoice, when you were invoiced by a vendor, what work is in process and in general when the money comes in and goes out and above all, what your profits will be.

    Having a “quick quote” set up especially for projects with many components like window treatments is a value added bonus.  It will have features pre-loaded with charges so you can create a quote in a client’s home during a consultation or a measuring appointment.

    Other bonuses include being able to attach pictures of actual pieces of chose furniture and/or color coding to view your projects in progress.

    The ability to write up different descriptions or information to clients, vendors and office copy is an added plus so that only the information needed is sent to each.

    Here’s a list of some of the most popular software:

    Design Manager is a straightforward, detail-oriented program with an easy to understand method of organizing and keeping track of all the details of your business.  From the color and fabric to whether a vendor was paid and how much, it’s all there.  Design Manager includes a built-in accrual accounting system to keep you on top of your business finances.  The software allows for a quick quote, attaching photos to quotes and inventorying with barcodes.  The straightforward pricing is either $39.99 a month for their DMCloud or $49.99 per month for the Pro Cloud. https://designmanager.com/

    Studio Designer (once known as Studio Webware) has been around for decades and in its present version has enabled a collaborated effort through portals to connect designers, clients, vendors, and showrooms.  This creates a greater degree of efficiency allowing clients to quickly approve selections and designers to place orders.  Their integrated accounting system is highly detailed and functional.  The project management component features budget and project analysis.   Enhanced features include an iPhone app, free training lessons and the ability to accept credit card payments.  Their pricing is based on 2 variations of the software: basic and professional.  They are priced at either $35 per month per user or $45 per month per user and the site details what is included in each package. http://www.studiodesigner.com

    MyDoma Studio   This software is based on an interior designer’s need to have an industry-specific product to solve her design business dilemmas.  In this case, she built one herself.  It is unique in that the user can create her own product catalog with a client price which toggles to the designer’s cost.  The designer can choose to show the brands or not and markup or discount prices or not.  It keeps track of invoicing and provides details that can be accessed by a CPA or bookkeeper.  Clients can also view their paid and unpaid invoices.   It does not provide accounting software.  The software does, however, allow clients to charge their products relieving the designer the responsibility of protecting their credit card numbers.  The price of the software is presently $59 per month or $500 per year. http://www.mydomastudio.com

    Ivy  One of the newer design software companies that seemed to achieve instant approval is Ivy.  Instead of their own accounting system, they use Quick Books integration.  Built with up to the minute thinking their software’s mobile app is capable of running the business on the go.  For a professional look without hours of designing for yourself, they provide customized templates for proposals, invoices etc.  Included also is a product clipper to quickly add vendor products to a proposal or a catalog you create.  In February of this year, Houzz acquired Ivy Mark which upset several designers after the revelation (in fine print)  that Houzz owns all the photos from every designer once submitted to their site.  Ivy offers three different plans with variable restrictions ranging in price from $29.00 per month for one user (3 projects per year) to $149 a month for up to seven users. https://www.ivy.co/

    Designer Logic  This software has been operational for about 10 years and has grown with the industry’s needs.  It features a client, contractor and vendor portals to keep appropriate contacts up to date and flow throughout the project.  You can use the tools with a computer, Ipad, Mac or PC.  Vendors and contractors can list their services with Designer Logic’s Brand Book and become searchable to the software company’s design clients.  The dashboard creates estimates, specs, billing details, purchase order timelines, all project details accompanied by a trackable comment thread for staff member participants on the project.  It has a Catalogue that is easily updated to contain items used in projects for quick updates in future designs.  Clients can log in and see their billing, give approval, make comments and always be in the loop.  You can export to Excel or send your financial information to Quickbooks.  At present, the company charges 37.95 per user per month with a 30 day free trial.  There is no contract and a 20% discount for 3 or more users. http://designerlogic.com/

     

  • Health and Safety,  Tools to Use

    Organic Fabrics Sources Often Hidden from Interior Designers

     

    We have been inundated by a multitude of industries dumping chemical additives into our food, into our building products, into fabrics for clothing and into the furniture and fabrics used on them.  At this point in history, we are so saturated with chemicals in our environment can we deny the connection to seeing more and more people with allergies, auto-immune disease, weight problems and fatigue.  Can we do anything about it?  Can we cut back and protect ourselves?