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darrelsumi 11-11-2012 09:06 PM

Feedback on Small Project Service
Hey everyone, I'm looking for some feedback on something I'm working on from all of you here.
I'm starting this online service that helps people with small interior decorating needs (choosing paint color, rug choice, etc.) get advice from professional interior designers and decorators.

The idea is that you can send your question (e.g. I need a new lamp, what do you suggest will go with everything else in my room?) along with photos and necessary measurements, and we'll get a professional designer to help you out remotely via our online service. You'd pay a small amount (~$100 or less), and our interior decorators will send you their tips and links / pictures to possible pieces that would work.

What do you think of this? Have you tried getting professional help before and what didn't work? Would you only consider professional help for large projects (an entire room redesign) or would you want advice for minor details too if it were cheap enough? How often do you find yourself with these small projects?

Thanks everyone, any suggestions and tips would be awesome! Also, let me know if you're interested, we have quite a few designers already lined up.

I really just want to get the conversation going about why it seems that professional design help is so "out of reach" for most people.

We have a website at Link removed as per forum rules but its still in the works, so there's not much to see yet

*Advertising not allowed

user1007 11-12-2012 06:00 PM

I guess you are on to an intriguing idea. I certainly would love to support any venture helping to convice people design professionals are not just for the rich. I have been both client and have had architects and interior designers (not decorators) as clients and in all instances found the relationships enjoyable. The interior design community provided me with showroom access and usually saved me quite a bit of money over buying furnishings retail. And I got just what I wanted or at least what I could be talked into.

I am not sure how your example of buying a lamp would work for sure. I get the concept but the relationship between designer and client is, I hope, about more than hiring a personal shopper to choose an accessory, like a lamp or area rug, from photos without really knowing the client. And how do you credential the people and verify the authenticity of the project?

People come to this forum with similar questions to your example all the time. And usually get some good responses---all for free. I am not sure I yet appreciate the value you propose to add?

And is the client the only one who pays or does the design community pitch in too?

Good luck. I am not trying to discourage you. I see the moderators killed your link. Don't take it personally but the site gets lots of spammers and they usually do not let newbies post links until they are better known. Hope you are not spamming us are you?

darrelsumi 11-12-2012 06:33 PM

Thanks for your feedback sdsester!

You bring up a lot of good points I've been trying to work around. Like you mention, the relationship between the person and designer is a key element that can't be overlooked. Every person and designer have their own unique likes / dislikes and style, that it makes the matching the two so important before a good relationship can be created.

I've been looking into ways people can build up their "inspiration profile", essentially a compilation of pieces, styles, etc. that work for them. Obviously, this doesn't take into account personal lifestyle and various other aspects that would be important.

On the flip side, forums like here see minor questions all the time, and get pretty good responses. I've also seen some pretty bad responses too, which make me wonder if there is an extra need for high quality professional responses for smaller projects. Also, I've always felt a little weird about posting pictures of my home onto public forums, maybe that's just me though.

I know quite a few other online consultation services from individual designers that seem to work well, I suppose ensuring an extremely high quality of designers might be key here. Or do you think it's necessary to be restrictive on what kind of projects can be posted (avoiding ones hard to do online such as paint color).

(Sorry for the links!)

user1007 11-12-2012 07:37 PM


Originally Posted by darrelsumi (Post 1050673)

I know quite a few other online consultation services from individual designers that seem to work well, I suppose ensuring an extremely high quality of designers might be key here. Or do you think it's necessary to be restrictive on what kind of projects can be posted (avoiding ones hard to do online such as paint color).

(Sorry for the links!)

I had no issue with the link in your case but rules make sense. With some posts under your belt, you should be able to list it so long as you do not solicit business.

I actually think helping with paint color online, provided decent client photos, floorplans, etc. can be much easier than selecting the materials associated with the selections. Or furnishings and accessories. You almost have to see and feel fabric samples for example. I can use a virtual painting program to show a client what a home interior or exterior will look like and send them large color swatches too. I cannot show them sheens though. I cannot keep the very few consumer clients I work with each year (and only if they have a very good reason for not having a design pro relationship) from buying box store crap paint. A design pro working in person will.

In my case, most clients are fellow design professionals and we speak at least some level of the language of color to start.

I've lived in areas outside of cities every now and then and I swear some designers and decorators make their money just filling buses with people who want to shop in showrooms. Not sure how that works out now that most do not require design credentials. The practice always made me a bit squeemish but some of the designers did quite well as bus/showroom tour guides I guess.

I think you do need some sort of profiles built for both designers and clients participating in your service. I wouldn't hire a designer without seeing some past work. I don't know where the threshold of how much information gets shared without you coming off like a dating service. And I am still stinging over the fact that while one of the first on Facebook and LinkedIn they took security of my information for granted to the point I hope I am now erased from both. No way of knowing though. I should think you need to build security into your system.

I wouldn't really worry about providing out of context pictures of my residence online but you raise an interesting point. If I must also profile marital status, lifestyle, number of family members, income, pets, etc. I might get nervous. Obviously this is all overkill for help in picking a lamp or rug (your example) to match submitted photos but without the information I suggest again the design role goes away and what remains is a personal shopper one. Nothing wrong with this I suppose.

And how will you make the actual client/designer match? Or when I need a rug or lamp will 80,000 designers swarm on me to tell me where to buy something they see as a match?

Will your service be involved in the actual transaction to buy the lamp or rug? If not, and even so, will you resolve issues pertaining to it not being what was expected or me deciding I just don't like it?

Just food for though questions. I am not being negative I hope. I do see merit to some form of your idea. I was intrigued by the My Perfect Color site since name was similar to mine. I have not explored the site though. I do work quite different and in fact when my firm was fully functioning much of our work had much to do with human factors (psychological and sociological) and cross-cultural applications for color. I also have not looked at the Behance site in awhile but I believe they allow interior design and architecture portfolios now. You might get ideas on how to set yours up there. The ASID and AIA sites, just to start, might be worth a visit. I believe both have a referral service or maybe it is just a regional listing search engine thing?

I do think there needs to more user friendly information and interfaces for deling with a design pro. As you indicated many people are intimidated by the very prospect of working with one.

ddawg16 11-12-2012 08:33 PM

darrel....the problem you going to run into is that most DIY'rs are of the reasons the do DIY....the others....because of the challange....everyone else just hires the work out to someone else.

The second issue is that the net makes so many resources available for free.

About the only way you can make something like that work is to offer a service that someone can't get for free.

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