Technology Kills The Interior Designer?

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interior design technology

Computer nerds say that technology will replace interior designers, but here's why they're wrong. 

In the past decade, we've seen big advancements in technology and in ways that have benefitted the interior design industry. When I started my design business in 2009, I needed five pieces of software to create a design package to email to my clients. Now, you can get by with a couple of programs like Mydoma and Minutes Matters.

We can connect with clients across the world. We can video chat, see their space virtually and instantly discuss the project without losing travel time. That has made the designer's process more streamlined and more profitable. 

Our role has also evolved from being the reseller of goods who found that the prevailing standard to get paid well was tied to marking up products.  That has practically dried up as an additional source of income because your clients can and will shop online for the products you spec (and some of those Trade resources dumped designers to go directly to the consumer when the economy took a dump).

This lets the industry shed one of those dirty adjectives we've earned through the jerks who marked up products for shit tons of cash making the design industry on a whole seem shady. 

Designers now have the opportunity to be the true artists and charge for that gift. But if you listen to the tech gods you may be ready to look for a new career that can't be taken over by Artificial Intelligence. But, let's hold off on that.

The Disruptive Future of Interior Design Is Here Article

This is one of the first articles that was brought to my attention. I’m guessing the author doesn’t actually have any idea what it means to be an interior designer. 

Even with a clear vision of the home of one's dreams, the average customer often faces difficulty articulating that vision into words. It's the designer's role to help bring the client's vision to life, and while that often works out, there's never a guarantee that the end result looks like what was expected.

Sounds like the author is saying that working with a designer is a crap shoot as you never know what you're going to get as a design client. But fear not, he lets us know that there are: 

Innovative platforms that use technology to execute interior design are elevating the process without depriving the individuals of any sought-after personal touches.

THANK GOD! I mean I can't tell you how many impersonal spaces I designed. Throughout my design process, I sought only to make soulless designs that would ensure that my clients never wanted to hire me again. But wait, he's got more for us dummy designers...

Traditional interior design companies have operated successfully for a while but have declined to deliver meaningful innovation or undergo digital transformation.

Oh, really? Last time I checked with any of my clients (or myself), my drafting table and T-Square have been discarded and we've only delivered digital designs for the past decade. 

Wait, it gets better. 

He goes on to talk about Homepolish and how they work: 

The client is then recommended to buy a certain number of hours to be used over as many days as and at any time desired. This amount of control over pricing and time is incredibly remarkable, especially since interior design companies would charge much more, including service fees, commissions, and potentially marked up furnishings.

The reason Flat Fees are so popular now is that clients don't want to continue to buy chunks of time. They want to know how much everything is going to cost them, all in. Charging by chunks of time is not remarkable. 

LexSet Is About To Revolutionize Interior Design With NextGen AI Article

The article starts with the premise that decorating is so hard for the average Joe like:

What makes home decorating so hard? Several factors: maybe you don’t have a design background...

See, LexSet is going to use the Fibonacci sequence and other algorithms based on good design principles to become the design assistant of everyone's dreams. They have an epic search feature that is going to turn the world on its motherfucking head.

LexGuide takes LexSet’s search feature one step further by enabling browsing of multiple retail items at once through “sets.” Now, instead of just saying “show me rugs that will go with my sofa,” you can say things like “show me a vintage kilim rug that will go with my cream-colored Scandinavian sofa and my Barcelona coffee table.

So if the average Joe design client has no design background, do we really buy that they are going to ask for that vintage kilim rug that goes with their cream-colored Scandinavian sofa and Barcelona coffee table? Come the fuck on. The average Joe will ask the former question, not the latter. Maybe this program at some time will become a tool for designers, but at this point, we don't even have one complete software suite of solutions to allow us to run a design business seamlessly. We're still piecing software together to help us deliver designs. So for all of those brilliant software engineers, before you tell us how stone age we are as an industry, maybe focus on helping the designers instead of trying to be one of us. 

Here's why you don't need to worry about AI

Good interior design requires someone who is a creative who can see a space finished in their mind's eye and knows exactly how to pull it all together. None of the apps or piece of software can replace us because they need to be programmed by a human and used by another human who can speak that same language.

We know how hard it can be to communicate with our clients about what they want in their home because they don't know the industry jargon. The software isn't going to make this process any easier unless they also want to take the time to give the user a designer education, which then doesn't really save any time. 

Think about this. You go to Google looking for sneakers. You type in:

  • Sneakers

  • Sneakers Blue

  • Sneakers Blue Nike

  • Sneakers Blue Nike Sale

Everyone has to refine and figure out how to formulate their query to get the result they want. Google can't read your mind (although they are getting really good at predicting what you want, it's still not perfect).

Yes, technology is going to play an even larger role. No doubt. But as we have seen through the decades that a human’s artistry is not something that these apps can do. 

One more thing, the more technology that has crept into our lives the more we crave the analog life. We enjoy conversations with real people. We enjoy personal mail that we get out of a mailbox, not an inbox. We enjoy the process of creating and so do our clients. 

Connecting with humans is the real future of interior design. Taking the time to SEE your client, to UNDERSTAND your client and to be an ADVOCATE for your client is not something that AI can do. Only a designer with a HEART can do that. So take that, AI. 

Alycia Wicker

Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in helping soulful interior designers attract clients with clever marketing strategies. Celebrity gossip whore.