14 Ways To Stand Out As a Home Furnishings Designer

For an interior designer, nothing beats the excitement of discovering the perfect piece for a client — especially great if it’s not from a mass retailer but from a smaller company that is creating fantastic designs. CAVdesign is always on the lookout for new furniture and accessory designers to work with, and many clients are also looking to go ‘off the grid’ with unique pieces. In order to stand out, you have to be memorable when decisions are being made. In addition, every interaction, whether it be sending samples or dealing with a problem, will also make you stand out from the crowd.

So, here are a few ways (14 to be exact!)  to stand out  and be remembered as a home goods designer.

On the design side:

↠Solve a problem. Ask interior designers what they have had a hard time finding in the market, then design into that — for example I am constantly looking for small entry consoles that can hold keys and mail.
↠Pay attention to detail.Designers are always looking at hardware and finishes. Beautifully designed hardware that is machined well, and durable, flawless finishes will go far in standing out.
↠Use materials in an inventive or unexpected way. Rubber, leather, zinc — I’ll always take a closer look when it’s something I haven’t seen often (or ever!).
↠If a design makes me smile I’m always going to remember.  Whether it be through color or some other quirky detail, these are the pieces I make note of and refer back to when I’m selecting furniture. Don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor or follow an instinct that may be new territory for you with your designs.

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On the business side:

↠ Whether you love or hate marketing, you have to be visible and ‘findable’. Since SEO and marketing are definitely NOT my areas of expertise (!) I’d suggest finding consultants that know your market and work with them to make sure search engines are favoring you and you are engaged in an active virtual ‘conversation’ with your customers through social media.
↠ Build relationships with your customers. This is another version of the point above — get to know designers and retailers in-person at trade shows, and online via social media. And remember, everyone likes flattery, so being familiar with their work will score big points!
↠ Be yourself — I think no matter what, being friendly and showing your human side goes far at being memorable.
↠ Have your website do two things: reflect your brand and the personality behind it, and be EASY to navigate. I’ve been known to give up looking if it’s just too hard (or takes too long) to get to the information.
↠ If you are marketing directly to consumers, sites like FAB.com are a good way to get in front of lots of eyes. While I don’t buy that often from sale sites, I do discover new resources through them.

On the production side:

↠ Provide finished samples that ship quickly, are well labeled,  and are accurate representations of your finishes. Oh, and free – we like that!
↠ Be up-front about lead times or out of stock items.
↠ Communicate any issues or questions immediately
↠ Package for damage-free delivery
↠ Be responsive and courteous about returns. No one likes a return, so let’s all just be nice to each other about it!

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Of everything above, I think engaging in conversation — virtually or literally — with your customers is probably the most important. It’s where you’ll find out what’s missing in the market, where you can establish the flavor of your brand, and have your customers know who’s behind that brand.