Psst… It’s okay to not know the answer to that question. Thanks to technology, the interior design industry is evolving at a breakneck pace. The standard practices from just one decade ago are no longer in practice. Advancements in technology demands that interior designers embrace new ways of operation. Gone are old-school practices like sending paper invoices or meeting with every client face to face. These days, online invoicing and video chats are common in the interior design industry.
As an interior design professional, what do you need to know about technology to not only meet current market demands but also future-proof your business? Let’s discuss.
Using Technology to Find Interior Design Ideas
Design inspiration comes in many forms. As a creative thinker, it’s no doubt that you’ve spent your entire lifetime collecting ideas for future interior design projects. Perhaps you found inspiration in design magazines or trade shows or peaceful hikes in nature.
While you can still do all of those things to find your muse, you can also use technology in more intuitive ways. Here’s how:
Search for exactly what you’re looking for – Instead of flipping through magazines and letting inspiration come to you, you can hunt it down. Using inspirational sites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram (for starters), you can find fresh ideas from other interior designers.
Create visual collections – Save all of your inspirational images in idea books or folders for later reference. Add keywords and relevant information to make the images easier to search through. You can catalog visual collections based on type, color, designer, design aesthetic, price point, and more— whichever makes sense to you.
Collaborate with fellow designers – On the social site Pinterest, you can collaborate with other designers on group boards. Not only does this have the added benefit of increasing your exposure, you can also use this strategy to build your professional network.
Innovative Ways to Market Your Interior Design Business
Technology has completely revolutionized business marketing. In the not-too-distant past, interior designers relied on a combination of ad space in local publications, a premium listing in the Yellow Pages, and buzz from word of mouth to get clients. (While word of mouth is still crucial, it’s not reliable or scalable because it’s completely out of your hands as a business owner.)
Thanks to technological advancements on the Internet, interior designers can reach more leads than ever. Here’s how:
Facebook – Facebook is the undisputed champion of Internet marketing. With over two billion users worldwide, this popular social giant practically guarantees access to prospective clients. Facebook has advanced targeting options that allow you to narrow your reach to a specific demographic based on location, age, behavior, likes, or even similarity to your best clients.
While you can pay for ad space on Facebook, the nature of the medium allows for some powerful but free and organic marketing as well. One simple way designers can take advantage of the power of Facebook is to post pictures of projects (completed or in progress) on their personal and professional pages, and let the magic of sharing, reposting, and tagging do it’s thing. Facebook Live is another great way to use the platform to market yourself. Clients and designers alike may be interested in your work and your process, and by sharing that with them, you can build an audience.
Google Ads – In addition to creating ads on social media, you can also attract prospective clients through search engines with the help of technology. As the Internet’s top search engine, Google also sells valuable real estate on its search pages to advertisers. Through the magic of the Internet, when someone searches Google for “interior design Dallas,” your ad can pop up ahead of the regular listings. But that in and of itself doesn’t sound too extraordinary. Here’s how technology has improved business advertising:
Google works on a bidding system, however the winner isn’t always the highest bidder. Instead, they decide which ad to show based on whether or not the ad is relevant to the intended audience. The one with the highest relevance or quality score will win. The same applies to Google. Both Google and Facebook use complex algorithms to determine when and where to display your ads.
Using Technology to Run Your Business
Technology has made it easier to run an interior design business. From billing clients to accessing digital inspiration files, embracing technology will not only improve your own efficiency but it will also enhance your client’s experience. Here are a few ways to use technology to your advantage:
Offer virtual services – Offer virtual design services to your clients with the help of video chat, screen sharing apps, and Gather. Learn more about how to offer online interior design services to your clients here.
Draft projects in 3D programs – Using 3D design apps like SketchUp, RoomSketcher, or Virtual Architect, you can help clients visualize their space in enhanced perspective.
Store and share files in the cloud – Instead of cataloging inspirational images, swatches, and client data in a physical library, you can use Gather to do everything virtually. Additionally, use Gather to clip online images and organize them in one place on the web.
Here are a few additional tools you can use to run your interior design business.
The Rise of the Smart Home
Once upon a time, the biggest interior design dilemma was how to arrange furniture around a television. Today’s interior designers need to accommodate an ever-growing array of home tech. From voice-activated apps to control security access to specialized thermostats and remote-controlled light switches, smart homes present unique challenges to interior designers.
Here are three smart-home products to consider in interior designs (if you haven’t already):
Smart locks – Smart locks give homeowners easy access to their homes while successfully locking out would be intruders. As this technology becomes more common, research which products work best with your unique design aesthetic. Currently, you can choose from integrated deadbolts to portable keyless entries that are appropriate for renters.
Indoor security cameras – Security products such as indoor cameras are becoming standard for smart homes. Homeowners enjoy being able to check on their homes in real time. While immediate access to home security is great for the homeowner, the dilemma for the designer is where to place these design-obtrusive gadgets.
Smart speakers – From Amazon Echo to Google Home, smart speakers are here to stay. These smart speakers allow you to give voice commands to a virtual assistant. Clients use smart speakers to play music, set reminders, make calls, switch on or off lights, set alarms, ask questions, or even shop remotely. The list of hands-free tasks to do with these smart speakers is ever-expanding. When designing a space, you need to know how to integrate smart speakers without them sticking out like sore thumbs.
The Future of Interior Design
What’s the future of interior design?What’s the future of interior design? Here's a sneak peak: Click To Tweet
One of the most exciting developments on the horizon is the integration of virtual reality (VR) with interior design. Imagine being able to provide your design clients with a totally immersive consultation experience. After your client places on a VR headset, they are able to walk into a holographic projection of your designed room. This gives your client an immediate impression of your design, allowing them to provide more accurate feedback.
Here’s another VR opportunity to consider in the future: Virtual showrooms. With a virtual showroom, your clients will get a chance to see your favorite, hand-picked furnishings. Virtual showrooms give clients a better perception of a product’s real-world dimensions.
In addition to VR, augmented reality is inching its way to daily life. Augmented reality isn’t totally immersive. Instead, it overlays digital information on reality. IKEA was one of the first to bring augmented reality to the interior design industry. As you can see in this video, IKEA’s augmented reality allows customers to use a smartphone app to see how furnishings look in their space.
Image Courtesy of IKEA YouTube
Both virtual and augmented reality offer exciting ways to deliver immersive experiences to clients without asking them to leave their homes.
Technology is always changing, finding new and interesting ways to make our lives better. We stay on top of it to provide you with the tips and best practices we find most useful, so stay tuned!