The Interior Design Business Handbook
Complete with more than 75 sample forms and letters, this Fifth Edition is a one-stop resource for all aspects of establishing and running an interior design businessfrom choosing a location and managing day-to-day operations to growing a business and putting it up for sale. All of the techniques and procedures in the book are rooted in real-world experience and are used daily in successful design firms throughout the United States.
Filled with valuable information for solo practices and small firms as well as larger businesses, this book is an indispensable resource for seasoned professionals as well as interior designers who are at the start of their career.
MARY V. KNACKSTEDT, FASID, FIIDA, is founder and President of Knackstedt, Inc., of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and New York City. She is an interior designer, furniture designer, consultant, and speaker. She has taught continuing education and business courses for professional organizations and universities, including Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. As a consultant, Knackstedt has helped develop many new businesses and restore many failing businesses. She continues to advise designers throughout the United States.
The Interior Design Business Handbook
Finding Your Place in Interior Design
Whether you are considering entering the field, or you have been practicing for many years, it is valuable to consider its different aspects. A review of the abilities that are usually part of the successful designer will help you define if these talents are natural to you, or perhaps you need to design your career to have others fill in where you have weak spots. A review of the specialties is also very worthwhile.
As designers, we are usually not happy in doing the same thing year after year. This is why we create change. So, as you review the specialties, consider the ones that may fit your market. You may want to add them to your practice, or find another designer with that specialty to partner you.
Interior design is a very socially interactive discipline. We work with clients to define their needs. We often have many consultants on our team to develop design solutions. We then orchestrate the workings of many different types of resources, craftsmen, and artisans. Today, there are not as many large design firms as there were in the past. Considering the special needs of today's clients and the independent spirit of many of those in our industry, there is movement toward teams, joint-venture groups formed on an as-needed basis.
This often permits design work to be done on an even-higher level. The team leader can select the very best talents for the job.
We see the entrepreneurial trend in many types of businesses today. Interior designers are entrepreneurial by nature. So, this process is really very effective and practical and also provides a growing and developing opportunity for each member of the team. Designers enjoy new challenges. The system really fits their personalities.
Interior design is a profession, a career, a vocation, and a lifestyle. It is not just a job. To practice successfully, it is important to have a clear idea of what interior design involves, as well as an appreciation of its demands. It is important to have the combination of personal attributes and interests a professional interior designer needs.
WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER
Design expertise comes from exposure and experience, a combination of academic study and on-the-job learning. Every one of your experiences contributes to your design vocabulary. Design education stresses problem solving. The four-to-six years you spend in the formal study of interior design gives you the informational tools to use in your work. Problem-solving skills may be the most valuable tool of all. Interior design demands a tremendous amount of ongoing research. To be a responsible designer, you must study new technologies; new-product specifications; laws and regulations; changes in building, fire, and safety codes; and environmentally responsible issues. With each new project there is more to study and learn. Your education never ends. Learning is part of a designer's lifestyle.
Interior design work, by nature, requires that those who practice it learn to temper their innate idealism with the practical demands of reality. You design for real people in the real world. In every design project you undertake, you must be willing to strike a balance between what you envision as "the ideal" and what you can achieve within the project's practical constraints.
Interior design is creative work, and it attracts talented, creative people. In fact, without talent, you cannot go far in this field. Your challenge is to direct and focus your creativity. You will have no problem coming up with new ideas, but it is often difficult to determine which ones should have priority.
The days of sitting at a drafting table and drawing pretty pictures are over - if they ever existed. Designers have to make things happen. Social contacts are important in acquiring new projects. You must like people an