As an interior designer or brand, how has the pandemic affected your work?
I am a small business and the pandemic has greatly affected my business. The majority of my projects have, quite rightly, been put on hold. I had a potential project in its early stages of negotiation, but as this client is a doctor, she has been redeployed within the NHS and again, quite rightly, must concentrate on her work. This, however, has put my work in sharp perspective.
Further to that, how have you responded to the challenges? What measures have you put in place to not only ensure safe practices but to safeguard your business?
For the project which was in the later stages of development, my client and I decided jointly to put this on hold until September. It was too risky to send suppliers in to measure rooms for joinery and carpet quotes, for example. Also, most of my suppliers and their suppliers are also closed. My client and I were worried about ordering items from business who might, over the course of the next few months, cease to trade. I am developing ways of trying to mitigate this risk. I’m researching suppliers thoroughly, asking for different and more favourable trading terms and splitting invoices.
We are all trying to find silver linings to this crisis. Some are finding more time to be creative – with or without children! – to think about issues in a different way, to explore a new skill or to improve an existing one. What has been your experience so far in terms of creative thinking and output?
One of my more creative (and proudest!) moments has been teaching my 10-year-old son how to measure his room and draw a scaled plan of it. This was part of his Design & Technology home schooling session! Otherwise, I am going to use this time to focus on the side of my business I rarely have time for. I’m going to try to master my new project management system and focus a little bit more on social media. It’s a good time to engage with people and foster existing contacts as well as make new ones.
Trying to stay on a positive note, we’d love to hear about any benefits you may have discovered amidst the difficulties?
I have also found that this lockdown has provided such a wonderful yet unexpected opportunity to collaborate, help and learn from my fellow designers. I think I have virtually spoken to more fellow designers in the last few weeks than in the last few years (thanks largely to the Camberyard Collective!). We are generally all in similar situations and can absorb so much information from others and feel good offering views and opinions that might help others. There is no finer feeling.
Looking ahead to the future, when this pandemic is behind us, we’ve been thinking about how this enforced shutdown might be an opportunity to do things – personally, professionally and as a society – a bit differently. We’re thus interested to know how, if at all, you might take your own business forward in a new way?
As above, I may suggest sometimes chatting with clients virtually. Whilst interior design relies a lot on developing a close relationship with clients to best understand their needs, wants and desires, once this is initially done, I really do feel that it can continue to develop with the odd virtual meeting and more of a ‘virtual hug’. I may also seek to offer some quicker and more cost-effective form of online design for single rooms. For example, I might offer fast turnaround planning and concept design for clients who are then happy to progress the rest of the project themselves. It has made me contemplate new ways of working.
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