'Tis the season to be jolly, but Christmas can be a stressful time for interior designers, says Vanessa Brady.
No matter how long we've been in the business, Christmas often seems to come as a surprise for interior designers and their clients. Suppliers inform the trade buyers in advance of their shut-down periods and we, the trade, plan project hold-overs and completions so as to comply with health and safety regulations, contractual covenants, damaged delivered goods and in general working to a fixed deadline while relying on a series of third party providers to deliver on their promises.
I'm delighted to say, I'm up to speed in my design practice thanks to my loyal and hard working team; we have a happy client, therefore a happier team now fully back in business and back to full speed (albeit on much reduced margins) with a full order book for 2012 and everyone back in the saddle. I have always maintained that it is the people that make a concept or business work, and if you don't surround yourself with good people you will be dragged down with them; you will never pull mediocre people up. So, in this market, nothing is more noticeable than the individuals and what each member brings to the team. Of course, dealing with a good supplier is also vital to ongoing success.
The ethos and compliance of corporate structure eliminates much bad practice simply because the brand must be protected from bad, or poor, performance, illegal trading and anti competition tactics. At a local level building good relations with contractors is advisable, while navigating your way around clients' expectations and guiding them gently towards reality is all part of being a designer. If you or your team get it wrong, it will come back to bite you.
The Christmas furniture delivery deadline is upon us: faulty stock, wrong delivery addresses, changed minds, horrendous traffic and long queues. The pressure and emotions of the home-owner-client can work the average designer into a stressed frenzy and many suppliers into bankruptcy (often announced in January!).
The importance of a great sofa relies on a few key points: comfort, cleaning, size, scale and access to the installation point. The logistical points of a successful design scheme are frequently overlooked, but represent a good reason why a homeowner should instruct a qualified designer.
The contract sector, on the other hand, prepared for the Christmas season back in September. Christmas starts with hospitality in the form of corporate parties and group nights out. These social events are filled with excessive drinking, so the contract sector must ensure all carpets are secure, and eliminate wear that allows heels to get stuck in the carpet webbing so that when a young lovely staggers across the floor in a drunken stupor and falls over, she won't claim thousands of pounds in compensation. The contract sector must comply with so much more legislation because of the additional risk to the public, of loss of life and to general health and safety.
'Of course girls who fall over, in our compensation driven world, may even claim it's the fault of the shoe shop as the source provider; but one thing's for sure, in the corporate world it's not excessive drinking, as in this market budgets won't stretch to excessive drinking at the Christmas Party this year!
The 'benefits' of corporate entertaining in 2011 are nearly over and soon the real work begins. 2012 will be yet another challenge but now we are all ready to move ahead as a nation of like-minded industries.'
Vanessa Brady is an interior designer and head of the Society of British Interior Design (SBID)