by Steve Nobel
Today’s clients are paying a worthy premium for the gratifying experience that interior design affords them. Increasingly, that means that they are paying a professional fee for this extraordinary experience while at the same time paying a nearly wholesale price (actually the most realistic price) for the furnishings specified for the decor. Typically through the years though, clients paid an hourly rate for time to design and execute an interior while at the same time paying a markup or ‘split discount’ on the price for the furnishings bought for resale to the client. That’s changing.
Recently, a great deal of interest has been directed toward replacing the conventional model based on ‘time and materials’ with the more progressive model based on fees worthy of a professional. Why is this transition happening, and who is making it? Clients are; largely because any reasonable consumer would want to know how much money is on the line, or at least be assured that their apprehension about open-ended payments for time and materials can be relieved. All of the recent research into consumer preferences indicates that they prefer fixed fees because they are more predictable, calculable for budgeting and transparent to the buyer – all contributing factors in the client’s trust in the designer’s judgment. And that’s what designers want too – to increase their value (and their fees) as advisors, advocates, consultants or style-makers, and lessen their dependency on selling products.
Steve Nobel is founder and principal of NOBELINKS, a consulting practice specializing in the luxury markets for home furnishings and interior design, worldwide.