Is There a Market for Design?


It may seem like a rhetorical question to ask interior designers if there is a market for design. From what I am observing and hearing from designers whose businesses are not performing so well at present, I think, on the contrary, it goes to the heart of why some firms are so busy while others are struggling to attract clients.

What there is not as much demand for these days is shopping and decorating. Consumers looking to stretch their project budgets can find lots of decorating ideas and tips online or on TV. They can research and purchase many of the products they want the same way. Perhaps those products won’t be of the quality you would recommend, but frankly, most of them don’t care. They expect to have to replace them in a few years anyway. Is it any wonder more of them are trying to do it all themselves, going directly to contractors or engaging a designer for only a few hours of consultation?

Here is the question you should be asking yourself every business day: What do my clients need me for? The answer may vary somewhat from client to client, but the essential answer to that question ought to be (better be, or you’re in the wrong business), DESIGN. Clients may know what products they want and what kind of look they like, but by and large they know squat about designing interiors. They need you to do that.

Don’t assume that just because a potential client calls you they understand everything you can do for them. Since clients are not yet aware of why they need you, it is up to you to show and explain it to them. Designers I know who are really successful spend a lot of time doing that. It’s called marketing. Most designers don’t do enough of it or enough of the right kind of marketing.

Yes, there is a market for design. But you have to go out and look for it—or, be satisfied with whatever comes your way.

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