Starting an interior design business is easy, BUT... how to turn it into the profitable and sustainable business? We teamed up with Matteo Bianchi, an internationally acclaimed designer and Design Maestros' co-founder to find out what steps you need to take to become a successful interior designer, just like Matteo and his previous students.
After more 15 years in business and 150 projects implemented, Matteo is here to answer any burning questions you have about the ins and outs of the industry.
It has been my dream to be an interior designer as far back as 2005. Finally, I’m living my dream of running my own successful design practice and designing dream spaces for our clients. For me it’s an honour to be able to share the journey I’ve been on and to help other designers set up, grow and run their own interior design businesses.
#DREAM AND PLAN, PLAN AND KEEP DREAMING
"If you can dream it, you can do it”. This is definitely one of my favourite quotes, but I tend to tweak it to be ‘If you can dream it, you can design it’.
Dreaming is good, but it’s not good enough. Your dreams are only as strong as your plans around them, you need to make sure you’ve built a strong brand if you want to succeed in this very competitive market.
Everything should start and end with your values. You should discover which values are dearest to you so that you can build your brand around it. This helps you to attract the right clients, who share the same non-negotiable beliefs. It might be straight forward but that’s the jackpot that you want, to ultimately spend all your working time with like-minded clients, as well as colleagues and suppliers.
Once you get firm on your values, it’s time to discover what your greatest strengths are, so that you can mould your business around those skills; and most importantly what your shortcomings are, things you’re not very good at - or simply, don’t like.
This can help you build a team around you, with complementary strengths.
Just to put into perspective, I am a proper ‘Mr Forgetful’, I love sketching, improvising and mixing styles. The creative stuff. I dislike computer drawings, detailing, admin: that’s what my Colleagues are mostly in charge of. And I have surrounded myself with colleagues who enjoy the tasks that I don’t, this way our studio compliments each other.
The market place is another thing that you should consider. Although it’s a very competitive market, there’s work for everyone – you can’t appeal to every market.
Finding your brand and what type of magic you offer as a designer will help you to focus on the right market. Matteo Bianchi offers his help to guide you and give you helpful tools in order for you to decipher your own market.
#HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU CHARGE?
Let’s get straight to the point. You might have clicked on this blog because this is the burning question for any designer who is starting their own business or freelancing. This course will take you through what it’s like tackling a typical interior design project – the tricks on answering the right questions to get you that call or email from a potential client all the way to double checking the snagging list.
“Sure, Matteo that’s fine... but how much do we charge?” I hear you, it’s a tough question and you might have had multiple responses for it, but I’m here to guide you through a very simple and effective tool to help you understand how much you can charge on each stage of the project.
First and foremost, do you understand exactly what the client needs most from you? This is where you could charge a premium (exciting, right?!)
EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TO SURVIVE, GROW AND THRIVE IN THIS CHALLENGING INTERIOR DESIGN INDUSTRY
It's all about understanding how the engine room of the business works: how to set up a company, business accounts, insurances, cash flow, choosing the right suppliers, legal disputes, HR, social media, networking … and anything else you would like to know.
If we go back to the beginning... how can you possibly start and grow an interior design business in your 30s with no money, no architectural or artistic education under your belt and no connections through your friends and family? Is it courage? Perseverance? Determination?
It’s a combination of them all as well as a few other key ingredients. But for now, all I can tell you about, is how big your dreams can be and if you put some plans in to place, how real they could be too. But you must break it down into bite sized pieces first.
This is how we approach things in our studio; nothing scares us. But if it’s something we’ve not done before, we approach bit by bit until we’ve got the hang of it and we’ll mix in a good dose of courage, which has helped us to get to where we are now.
My dream has now developed into the studio taking on the biggest hospitality project that we’ve ever designed, launching the Design Maestros and our own product design label. Was it apart of the initial dream? I can’t be sure that it wasn’t, but I didn’t know how far I could go. The only thing I had in mind was the culture and values I wanted to set up for my business and I’m pleased with all this hard work, my dream is coming true every day.
If you an aspiring or practising interior designer you may be interested to attend Matteo's three day course “How to set up, manage and grow a professional interior design business”. It will cover virtually everything that you’ll need to know in order in navigate and or master this very intricate business.
I’m able to share with you all the best practices and examples from our previous projects as well as the endless mistakes that I’ve made in the past. I’ve always thought that mistakes are the best and quickest way to learn... especially when you lose silly amounts of money doing it.
Matteo’s experience in all these fields means that there won’t be a subject that he cannot clarify or explain to you in further detail.
About Matteo Bianchi and DESIGN MAESTROS
Matteo Bianchi is an internationally acclaimed designer who considers every project to be unique. Reflecting on the significance of dreams, both his own and those of his clients, it is the notion of a dream that plays a fundamental role in the creation of his elegant and timeless designs.
He runs his own Studio located in London, composed of creative and talented designers which has successfully developed more than 150 projects worldwide. He has been a regular teacher for different Schools such as University of the Arts London, Elle Education, Maison & Object Academy, The Interior Design School London.
Design Maestros, Lyndall Fernie, Marcus Steffan and Matteo Bianchi, are now back to their original purpose! passing their vast and practical knowledge on to future generations, and being inspired to see them become successful designers. If you are interested to learn from the experts, check out short-term courses line-up available this season.