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Business of Design

Don't Let Big Corporations Sell Directly to Your Clients

Fortuny

Like it or not, the interior design profession is under attack and changing right before our eyes. The art of interior design, the to-the-trade business model, the way you earn money, and how you get jobs are all in jeopardy. If you are as passionate about interior design as we are, you should be asking yourself what can be done to help protect both the industry and your business.

Depending on what business software or social platform you use, your photos, your data, and even your clients’ data may already belong to someone else. Recent acquisitions in our industry have directed a spotlight on this issue, forcing designers to question just how that information will be used. Will these corporations protect and use this info for your best interests, or will they use it for their own benefit? For the sake of your clients—and your livelihood—you deserve to know.  

We believe that business is not the enemy of art. Quite the contrary, good business is essential to spread beauty and art in a world that needs it so badly. However, since there is no standardized way to charge for design services, interior design is ripe for disruption by outsiders. While change is inevitable, for now, we can still control how we like to operate our businesses.

You have much more influence and power to change the industry than you might believe.

The reality is that many manufacturers and brands are restructuring their business models to find ways to sell directly to your clients. Some will protect you and your margins, and some will not. Some of the new online marketplaces will protect and promote you, while others will actively use your data to try and sell directly to the end users—your customers. What’s next? Will High Point and other trade-only design centers open their doors to the public? I hate to break it to you, but that’s already happening, too.

The real question is: How will the interior design profession evolve?  

Interior design is a complex and nuanced profession made up of entrepreneurial artists, and running a design business is certainly difficult. Interior designers like you specify approximately $70 billion of product annually in North America, yet somehow you are the ones being squeezed and taken for granted by both consumers and vendors.

There is a great opportunity for our community to come together and shepherd this industry, which is our livelihood and passion, towards a more sustainable future, but we need to do it now and we need to do it together.

My family has spent decades dedicated to preserving the legacy of Mariano Fortuny. Although we still produce our fabrics in the original factory on the island of Giudecca in Venice, as we have for a century, we know that we are not an island. We are all deeply connected in this rich tapestry that is the interior design industry. Our experience protecting and nurturing this legacy led us to build Fuigo, and we have been working fervently to protect and serve interior designers ever since. No matter how homogenized the world becomes, great design will still prevail.

The reality is that you have much more influence and power to change the industry than you might believe. We understand the problems and opportunities before us and firmly believe that only through collaboration can we solve these issues and still remain independent. We are at a tipping point. We need to work together to empower designers and preserve the art form of professional interior design, or else we all risk being marginalized.

Join the conversation in this private Facebook group and be a part of the change you want to see: www.facebook.com/groups/forthetrade

  

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