Yesterday we traveled to Washington D.C. for a day at the Washington Design Center. While we were there, we attended a panel hosted by House Beautiful editor Stephen Drucker. He spoke with Celerie Kemble and Jamie Drake about their business, and how the industry has changed in recent years.
Their honest, in-depth answers were an inspiration. Bossy Color called it “career changing.”
Many designers are very reluctant to discuss pricing structures, and to acknowledge how they’ve adapted over the past few years. Not these two. Their frank discussion of pricing had a room of more than 200 designers furiously nodding and taking notes. The bottom line according to them: be flexible, make sure the client is comfortable, but don’t negotiate. As Celerie put it, “Design is driven by the compromises not the fantasy.”
Steve Nobel started this discussion on our blog last week, so I’ll let him finish it, but suffice it to say it was really fascinating, and it goes to show people are open to talking about it. Or at least hearing about it.
Interestingly, Celerie and Jamie disagreed about what their clients wanted most. Jamie said the custom rug was essential, while Celerie steers clients toward great lighting and antiques. “I like to use fashion terms to help clients understand how to prioritize: the Ikea console table is the white tee, and the lamps are the expensive wrist watch,” she said.
Jamie doesn’t equate value with a lower price. He said, “Sometimes the most expensive item in the room provides the most value.”
Jamie said the idea of items being “timeless” and “forever” is actually terrifying for his clients, who are thinking more in a 10-20 year time frame. Value is not perceived by longevity. Besides, he said, “Timeless doesn’t really mean anything. A room designed in the 70s to be timeless still looks like a room from the 70s.”
Their repartee was witty and engaging. They discussed in rapid-fire dialogue ideal kitchen design, stainless steel fatigue, lacquered brass and unpolished nickel, formal dining rooms, monograms, velvet v. chenille and florals v. stripes, and much much more.
To sum it all up, Stephen Drucker offered a glimpse into the future of our industry. He predicts that the emergence of a major, national design celebrity (“Not Martha!”) will invigorate the industry.
Who will it be? And what do you think of some of the things they talked about? Let us hear from you!