Promoting design… charging or not?

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Owner of Judith Harrop Interiors explains why retailers should charge for design

The design pricing debate has been going on for some time in the KBB community. Established design-focused retailers such as Diane Berry, Hayley Robson and Matt Podesta have suggested that our designs are chargeable, while others have countered fearing it will lead to loss of work to others. companies that do not charge.

Some have said that if the industry sticks together and everyone charges it would make a difference, but human nature being what it is, that’s not going to happen, nor would it be fair, because not all retailers are particularly passionate about design.

I believe we need to change the way consumers think, educate them about our design skills and, to a greater extent, the difference between design and brand.

My grandmother designed and made exquisite clothes, including my mother’s wedding dress, which still stands up to scrutiny. A designer logo doesn’t always guarantee good design or workmanship. And an ill-thought-out combination of designer clothes can be considered ridiculous.

However, the rise of the “designer” product in recent decades has made brand labels more important than the product itself.

This is of course what brand identity is – the lifestyle and associations being what the consumer buys rather than the design of the product.

Kitchen and bath brands become equally desirable, but if the brand label is what the customer wants to show off in front of their friends, the value of bringing these products together in a cohesive form is lost. We do not encourage consumers to value our design capabilities. We encourage them to buy brands.

Education

Do our consumers lack confidence in their ability to identify good design? I do not think so. Judging by the liked images on Pinterest and Instagram, the ability to identify well-designed products and installations is more than apparent.

What is happening here is an appreciation of good design without the knowledge or understanding of how it came about, what contributed to its production, and its value.

We need to find ways to educate the public about design. More precisely on the fact that a good design is not necessarily linked to expensive branded products.

That we have chosen to specify and sell particular brands because of various attributes, such as build quality, function, aesthetic design and after-sales service, is one thing, but our skills in producing a full room design should be considered elevating these products. .

Creating a well-designed kitchen or bathroom is a time-consuming, often collaborative process. Taking brief notes takes time, detail takes time, ruminating on the best options takes time, finding elegant solutions to tricky problems takes time.

Moreover, it is a process by which a project has been explored and developed to obtain the best possible result in terms of functionality and aesthetics.

I know that many independent KBB resellers offer much more than key product setup and installation. Construction work, lighting, flooring and wall coverings are all covered. Their clients receive a complete design package. And yet, charging for design is still the elephant in the room.

For those who are considering charging for the design, I recommend giving it a try. Talk about the process, what you’ll bring to the project, and how much time you’ll actually spend setting it up. You will be surprised. If you charge for something, it shows it has value.

Once you’ve started the design process, your clients can tell that you’ve got their back, listened to their brief, understood their lifestyle, challenged and surprised them, but ultimately explored a variety of options. that give them the space they want.

The dilemma is this: how to change the culture of brand worship into a real design appreciation? We have to start talking to consumers about design and stop hiding its value in the total cost price of a project.

We need to stop treating it like a gift, because if you give something away for free, that’s like saying it’s not worth much. So let’s keep the conversation going – in our showrooms, with our colleagues, with our customers, with our friends and family. Let’s talk about our design skills and what they mean. Educate the consumer.

Let’s raise the profile of design.

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