Design Crowdsourcing – The Latest DYI Trend

Two heads are better than one, right? So ten heads must be five times better! That’s the idea behind crowdsourcing. The more input, the more ideas you get, the more likely you are to find the best solution. It’s an approach that has worked well in some fields, and now some intrepid entrepreneurs are applying it to interior design.

Websites like Decorilla, CoContest and Arcbazar invite prospective clients to submit their project request, which they then send out to a network of “qualified” designers and decorators, who either bid or compete for the projects. The client gets back several proposals, from which they can pick and choose, if they like. Sort of like those websites that help you find the best price for your car insurance. Sounds ideal, no? The client experiences less wear and tear and pays much less than for customized design services.

Of course, designers have long known the value of gathering different perspectives on a project. That’s why they are trained in charrettes and pull their teams together to review proposals and plans. In a way these sites are offering the average consumer the opportunity to participate in a kind of RFP process that commercial architects and designers compete in all the time.

So should you be worried? No. The individuals who use these sites are not your clients. Most of these sites, in fact, advertise themselves as alternatives to consumers who do not have the resources to pay for professional design services. They are another rung on the DYI food chain that runs from tips in the home and garden media to design-it-yourself software and smartphone apps to home improvement store workshops. In the end, the consumer receives a concept or plan. They still have to purchase the products and materials, hire a contractor or tradespeople and manage the project. Certainly, these sites provide value for consumers who have no idea where to begin, but they are no substitute for personalized, customized professional design services, like yours.

Crowdsourcing has its uses, but does anyone really think “Starry Night” would have been better if Van Gogh had asked a group of fellow artists for their ideas and sketches?

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