The State of Our Industry
The State of Our Industry

As you know, our industry has been in a state of transition for some time and we’ve recently come across several articles worthy of sharing. We’re interested in how the industry is evolving and how we, both designers and trade showrooms, can evolve and grow along with it.

The media, technology, the consumers and the economy are factors that have forced us all to take a second look at our business practices. Consumers are feeling empowered by accessibility of both product and knowledge through the Internet and new open-door policies at major design centers. And beyond print and online shelter publications, television shows are positioned as educational tools. In ASID’s recent State of the Industry report Crans Baldwin, president and CEO of Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman shared his view on consumers and the important role that designers play in educating them. “The consumer thinks they know more about fine furnishings than they really do and having access to design center resources doesn’t mean they can make the right design decisions. Designers need to educate their clients before they can sell goods or services to them.”

These industry-wide changes recently brought about a unique event; the first annual Summit hosted by the Decorative Furnishings Association (DFA) in partnership with ASID was held last month bringing together ASID chapter presidents, media representatives and general managers and marketing directors from independent design centers. Roundtable discussions covered a variety of topics including access to design centers, consumer marketing, business practices, continuing education and cooperation. In an interview with The Editor at Large, ASID’s Executive VP and CEO, Randy Fiser explained, “This was the first meeting of its kind and brought together key players in a forum that allowed dialogue on how this industry can and needs to change in order to thrive in the future. If we all work toward a common vision, to advance business, we can find more opportunities than challenges. Continuing the conversations, like the one from this day, will help us build a stronger and more resilient industry.”

Business practices were a key topic of discussion at the Summit. While some designers continue to operate under the traditional business model, others have moved away from marking up product in addition to charging for their time and are simply charging an hourly rate. Like many large design centers, we have created an alternative program that has seen steady growth; designers charge for services and handle the processing of orders with KDR accepting payment. Summit discussions concluded that the industry is moving in the direction of “through-the-trade” and away from the exclusive concept of the “to-the-trade.” It was suggested by Katie Belveal, General Manager of the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, that while practices vary widely by geographic location, a need for a cohesive, industry-wide action plan is needed. “From a design center and showroom level, we need to focus on promoting the value of hiring an interior designer.” We couldn’t agree more. Beyond servicing our design clientele, our goal is to both inspire and educate consumers with the intention of initiating their relationship with a member of our local design community.

For an in-depth look at some of the issues discussed in this post we’ve included a list of helpful links below.

‘Change is Now’ and Other Takeaways from the DFA Summit, The Editor at Large

American Society of Interior Designers State of the Industry,

Website for the Decorative Furnishings Association


Emily Faber
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