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Anyone who is used to the traditional approach to interior design
may immediately question such a proposition but the idea has real
attractions and merits. Just how can a traditional interior designer
become a product sold at a distance by mail order or over the internet?

Traditional Interior Design

Interior
design is one of the visual and tactile arts. Its practitioners work
with fabric, wood, glass, metal and colour and the finished product
always needs to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated.
Photographs rarely do justice to real room settings, which is why many
photographs of rooms are in fact staged settings in a photo studio.

Despite this, interior designers usually work in a logical and progressive way, starting with two key points:

  • The
    room as it currently is. In particular those aspects which cannot
    change, such as the direction of sunlight or position of a chimney.

  • The aspirations and goals of the client, including personal
    taste, budget and the desire to retain certain items or themes from the
    existing environment.
  • Traditionally, it may seem that an interior
    designer somehow effortlessly absorbs the key points. However in
    reality they are merely building up a clear mental picture, supported by
    notes, photos, sketches and measurements.

    Interior Design at a Distance

    Just
    how can a designer build up a picture of a room without actually
    visiting it? Well, it is entirely practical for much of the first stage
    of the interior design process to be treated as a structured process.
    This applies to capturing all the factual information about the existing
    room which can be recorded on a survey form or questionnaire.

    In
    fact a survey form or questionnaire is a great tool for capturing the
    client’s personal tastes, preferences and lifestyle aspirations. Often
    partners living together have differing requirements, goals and tastes,
    but one may be more assertive. If both use identical survey
    questionnaires and then compare their thoughts it will help enormously
    in reaching a suitable compromise less a lot of argument or suppressed
    anger.

    Even if two partners use this approach to interior design
    and do agree a compromise, both sets of information would be analysed by
    the interior designer so that the resultant design proposal will be
    attractive to both parties, rather than a neutral watered-down design.

    How does it work

    The
    more information the client provides about their room and tastes the
    better the final design will be. It helps considerably if the client can
    provide swatches or samples of fabric (e.g. from a three piece suite or
    carpet) that are already in use or planned.

    Similarly the
    interior designer will appreciate it if the client collects magazine
    clippings that illustrate styles that they particularly like and
    dislike. These can be submitted with the survey or questionnaire.

    Once the questionnaire is complete the client usually
    packs this up with material samples, magazine clippings, room
    photographs and sketch floor plans. The whole pack is sent to the
    interior designer.

    Based on the information received the designer
    starts work putting together a personal plan for the client. Often the
    designer will phone the client to make sure they understand the
    requirements or clarify some detail. Also once the designer starts to
    formulate a design they will run it past the client to test whether the
    solution is a good match to the requirement.

    Finally the designer
    will formulate a detailed plan which will be sent to the client by post.
    This may include some or all of the following:

  • Mood board with samples of proposed fabric, carpet, paint, wood-work etc.

  • Computer aided design of the room

  • Inventory of materials required; description, quantity, source and price.
  • Once
    the client receives their room design by post hopefully it will meet
    all their requirements, but there is always room for refinement with the
    designer. The client then has several options:

  • They can
    implement the design themselves. Perhaps they are confident at
    decorating and "Do-It-Yourself" (DIY) but lack confidence in the design
    process? The client would then source the materials and any help from
    contractors locally.

  • Alternatively they may be able to order some or all of the
    recommended materials from the interior designer. Everything from a tin
    of paint, through finished curtains, right up to items of furniture
    could be delivered to the client's door!

  • A third possibility would be to revert back to a more
    traditional interior design model. If the client really liked the design
    that arrived by post they could still call in the designer to manage
    the implementation on site, assuming the travelling distance was still
    practical!
  • Why do interior design at a distance?

    Mail-order
    design is ideal for clients who are leading busy lives. Perhaps the
    client wants to re-style their home but they spend most of their time
    away on international business. In the normal course of business it can
    be very difficult for the client and the designer to synchronise
    appointments on site. Working by post, e-mail and phone can actually
    speed up the process considerably.

    Other clients are somewhat shy
    or embarrassed at having an interior designer in their home. Perhaps
    they feel the designer will criticise their existing home or their
    taste. Interior design at a distance can be a good solution and it
    certainly can break down barriers.

    It may come as a surprise, but
    mail order interior design can be a very cost effective way of getting a
    unique personal interior design for your home.

    admin

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