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Working With An Interior Designer Or Architect

Jul 18, 2008
Most clients of ours want a functional space. The needs of different clients are different. Yet the basic concept is the same. It brakes down to three variables. The one that is not thought of is (sale, removal or disposal) after on used the furniture. We will not discuss this topic know but is an important one. We will explain ways to save and save big at time.
1. Design ( lay out)
2. Cost
3. Expediency of delivery.

The designers job is to combine all three. For our purposes lets say that the space you are using is pre-build will the offices and other areas that work. Except for carpet and painting there is nothing to do but create furniture lay out for your needs.

There are hundreds of designers out there. How to choose one?

1. Your building manager or real estate broker may recommend one to you.
  • This is a great place to start (Just remember there person gets a fee for the referral) which may be ok just depends on the fee.
  • Anther is asking a friend or others who may have done a build out recently
  • Also Visit the AIA web site or there designer associations.
2. Ask a furniture dealer they always know a few. ( This may better choice because they have good and bad experiences with designer and may recommend one the is easier to work with)

3. Visit their office. Most will at all costs not want to do this because most designers will use simple files and work tops. It is the cheapest and easiest to have a work environment, if the place is like this. Then these people are not for you. They say they are saving money. My question is for who? My best experience is a designer that has real furniture. It does not have to be expensive. This is your best bet.

Things to really watch for.

1. Make sure the designer get paid for just a lay out.

2. Make sure that they actually take a tape measure and measure the space while you are there (May will get the print from the building and lay the furniture out, then charge you for it. If there is a problem, they blame the furniture dealer. However, you paid them for the layout. Should they not know what size thinks have to be)

3. Discounts
  • Many designers flaunt this idea that they get amazing discounts. The reality is that they do not.
  • The smartest way is to be acquainted with your project and find a dealer to quote it for you. You may be shocked at the price discount of that of your designer. (do not let them know you are getting other bids)
  • Some dealers pay designers to give them work or the designer will buy it form the dealer mark it up and sell it to you. ( The designer get paid twice, some make most of there money this way) We find this wrong.
4. Preferred dealer
  • You may have a furniture dealer that you like and have a relationship. They in most cases will want to keep you as a customer and will be more open to finding savings as well as making changes to a more friendly space.
5. Custom furniture
  • Many will try to sell you some kind of custom furniture, whether it is a reception desk or millwork area. My suggestion is to try to stay away from this as mush as possible. You have to buy it form them in most cases. You will not be able to take it with you and the installation cost in most cases is high. Try using standard furniture as but as possible. In today's world, there are so many options you may be surprised.
6. Get involved with the project.
  • I have seen hundred if not thousand to projects where the client was busy and left it all to the designer. (When they woke up a space that could have cost $25,000 to $35,000 end up $ 90,000 to $ 150,000. Believe it. It is true)
7. Paying your interior designer.
  • Many have different fee structures. Some take a retainer and then bill by the hour. Other will set a flat fee unless there are some major changes. I find that there are always changes that have be made. Leave a buffer. Additional point is to have them state that if changes have to be made due to designers fault those costs will be removed from there fee. This is vital. Write what ever language you like.
8. Conclusion
  • Remember that in the end the space is yours. The designer does not have to spend 8 hours a day there. So make sure you are happy with the space. Also it is your money you may have to move in 5 years. We do not intend to put down designers in any way. Their are good ones out there that care about making the client happy. While other are just look to get as much out of you as they can.
  • If you do not like something or something does not make sense speak up. Make sure they are open to what you want. They do not know better then what you want. You will be sorry if you do not. Yes, they may have good ideas but you have to live in the space.
  • Ask for references and call them.
About the Author
The author is owner of office furniture company in new york city.
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