interior design

254 – Franco Crea: Thoughtful Design

Welcome! Today in the Lounge Nick is joined by Franco Crea, an Australian furniture designer and owner/director of FrancoCreaTM. Franco creates high quality and thoughtfully designed pieces which interact with the environment around them. During the interview, two discuss how Franco gained his interest in design, the difficulties that come with running a furniture design business, and much more.

243 – Alene Workman and Vicente Wolf: Ground Up Leaders

Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Alene Workman, president of Alene Workman Interior Design and Vicente Wolf of Vicente Wolf Associates, ground up leading designers in the industry. Nick talks about the wonder of the Datacolor ColorReader with Vicente and the art of interior design with Alene.

161 – Mark Zeff: Interior Design Hall of Fame

Mark Zeff: Interior Design Hall of Fame

Today in The Lounge, Nick interviews Mark Zeff, a recently inducted member of the Interior Designers Hall of Fame. Mark tells us how he got started in interior design and how moving to New York was the best business decision he’s ever made. Find out on the episode how he has created a full-service firm, from branding all the way to designing fabrics.  

Getting to Know Mark

Mark was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to Cape Town at the age of five. He attended University in London and moved to Australia after finishing school. Soon after, Mark decided that New York is where he really wanted to be. His favorite vacation spot is Bay Beach in the Hamptons and this is where the inspiration for his New York shop came from. When Mark is asked beer, wine or cocktail, he responds “definitely a cocktail.”

How Mark Got His Start

Mark first became interested in interior design when he attended an industrial design school in Johannesburg. He soon found that interior design wasn’t enough, he wanted to be an architect. Mark loved art and machinery so architecture was the perfect career to marry the two together. He landed a job at a firm in Sydney but New York seemed like the place to be in the 80s. So, Mark took off to NY in 1982 to have a little fun. Three weeks later he was out of money, called Ken Walker up on a whim and got a job with him the following week. Ken Walker worked with some of the largest retailers in the industry such as Bloomingdales and Macy’s and the firm had 300 people working for it. Mark’s first big project was with designing a toy store. Later he was invited to work with Ken’s product development team. After 2 and a half years with Ken, Mark went to work for Robert Gerson, whose firm specialized in industrial design. With Robert, Mark worked on the control center at NASA as well as on the machines. While working there he met some people who asked him to design their fashion showrooms. That’s when Mark left to start his own firm in the late 1980s.  

       

The Business Today

Mark runs his business from Dumbo, ‘Down Under theManhattan Bridge Overpass,” in New York. He fell in love with the interior of this 1920s building and converted it into his studio and store. Over the years Mark’s firm has had various employees, but now he staffs only about 25-30 people with backgrounds in branding, interior design, and architecture. They work all over in the industry including on homes, restaurants, condos, spas, rental units, townhomes, and apartments. Mark loves working all over and having a small firm. They do about 20 projects a year and some projects can last between eight months to three years. Branding is one of Mark’s passions. At fourteen he wanted to be a graphic designer so he looks at the world through a graphic eye. Mark runs a business that services everything you need designing furniture to fabrics and wallpaper. He uses branding as a huge tool in his business.

When Mark first started his firm he began by doing residential projects. The jobs he got were from people he met in nightclubs. His first big job was with Ann Baton, who came from a wealthy family and hung out with Andy Warhol. His transition to commercial design was by opening up a furniture store, that was similar to Design Within Reach. He imported furniture from Germany and Italy and also started designing his own furniture collection. A hotel business took notice and wanted to partner up with him. Mark’s first restaurant was the Red Cat on 23rd street. Later he worked on the Night Hotel, which really put him the map as a commercial designer. No else had done this kind of project before and to this day it is still called the sexiest hotel in New York City.

Mark opened a store in the 90s called Zeff Style but closed it after 9/11. He knew he wanted to open up another store again, so he gave a try in Brooklyn. BLACKBARN’s brand is to develop a home brand that has soul. People really love his store in Dumbo. It’s unique with its merchandising and collections. Mark received an offer from the Chelsea Market to bring his store into their business and make it the most exciting store in New York. It’s an experience where you can buy furniture and taste food to go with it. It will be a brand new concept for shopping and is scheduled to open late October of 2017.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and visit Blackbarn’s website as well.

Resources

Design Manager‘s software has great functionality and makes it easy for designers to control their business, while also looking very professional. If you haven’t tried them, there is nothing to lose with a FREE!!! 30-day trial and a 90-day money back guarantee.

Porcelanosa Porcelanosa not only offers tiles for your home but everything you might need to decorate, from plumbing fixtures to furniture, so be sure to check them out.

  • Upcoming Events

BDNY  – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market Jan 28 – Feb 1

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

Whatsup! I’m Tyler and I work for Nick at Walls by Design. One of the various things I do for him is manage our Google Advertising. Nick has asked me to explain how you can use Google Ads for your interior design business. I use Google Ads to market interior and cabinet painting but you can follow the same template for interior design!

First and foremost, you have to be the better business to be successful in Google Advertising. Ultimately, Google Ads spotlight your competitive advantages. Let me explain, pretend we’re a consumer in the early stages of their decision-making process. We have already decided that we need help in designing our new home and now we are doing our initial search on the web for a designer. Generally, the first search is for something simple like “interior designer (location)”. I just did a search for interior designers in Boston and Denver. What you notice, regardless of location or service, is how every business’ Google listing looks on the web page. They all read as follows, “(Company Name) – (Service Offered)” with a brief and simple description.

When looking at the Google search, there’s no real insight to help you choose one over the other. Nothing special separates these businesses aside from their name and their wording choices. The reason for this is because they are limited in what they can put in their title/description. The main goal is to receive a first-page spot for the searched keyword because as consumers we usually don’t look past the first page, never mind the first link. That’s why Google Ads are so special. They are first page Google listings where you can put whatever you’d like, in this instance your business! That is why Google Ads is a spotlight on competitive advantages because it allows your listing to stand out from all the rest.

I’m not going to give you a tutorial or step-by-step instructions for setting up a Google Ads Campaign. Google already does a great job at explaining that. You can find out how here. What I will talk about, is some strategies and performance metrics to keep in mind when you set up your campaign.

The most common strategy is targeting relevant keywords. A painting business would target things like interior painting, painting contractor, painter in (location), etc. Good words for an interior design business would be interior designer, interior decoration, interior decor etc. Google’s keyword planner is a great tool to help make sure you’re getting as many keywords as possible. Something to always keep in mind is utilizing negative keywords as well. Negative keywords are used to block keywords you might not want your business showing up for if that word is searched. For example, since Walls by Design only does interior painting, I have added negative keywords related to exterior painting so people don’t accidentally call us to paint the exterior of their house.

The second strategy that you can use Google Ads for is targeting your competitor’s web traffic. Instead of targeting keywords related to your service you can target keywords related to a specific business. This is where being the better business really comes in handy. For example, one of our competitors has a comparison chart for the best painting company (them) vs the oldest company (unknown) on their website. The whole idea for this comparison is to make them look like they’re the better painting business. Well, when they compared themselves to one unnamed business it definitely looks that way. That is until we started targeting their audience. Our most successful competitor’s ad has the title “There’s a reason why (our competitor) doesn’t compare us to them” and the description “We were voted best painting contractor of 2016, come find out why.” The link then sends them to ‘Our Painting Difference’ web page.

So essentially anytime a customer Googles the name of our competitors business, the first thing they see is the ad created by us. This was a golden opportunity for a competitor ad, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. As long as you have a competitive advantage over them though, it makes sense to target a competitor.

What I can’t stress enough is using the location feature for your campaigns. By targeting only the locations you service, you’re not wasting your Google Ads on useless leads. The only problem I noticed is that it doesn’t reach people who don’t have the location feature enabled. A moderate fix for this is to target city related keywords without the location feature on. For example “interior painting” will only be available in the cities I selected it to show but I will have “interior painting Denver” available worldwide.

Google does an excellent job at helping you create and manage your Google Ads. It seems like a lot at first, but like I said, Google is there to help. Google will constantly send notifications and reports to help you improve your campaigns. Listen to every suggestion it has. It’s the one that decides if your ads are quality or not.

If you do everything it asks, then it’s as simple as making sure you’re seeing a good response from using it. Keep in mind the average for all industries is a 2% click-through-ratio. It might not seem like a lot but anything over 1% is generally decent. Personally, I use the click-through-ratio only to measure how well the actual ads are doing. What matters most is tracking how people interact with your site after they click the ad. I use designated landing pages for this. A designated landing page for Google Ads allows you to gather keep performance metrics on the users who clicked your ad. The designated landing page for our ad is exactly the same as another landing page on our website, “Our Painting Difference”. The only difference is the URL and how the public can find it – only through the ad. This allows you to track how many people found the page through the ad only, as well as things like bounce rate, how long they stayed, and additional pages they viewed after. Another thing a designated landing page is good for is doing AB testing. You can have two identical ads lead to two different designated landing pages. This will help you improve upon the performance metrics on your website.

If you keep these things in mind, then you and your business will be golden. Don’t be intimated about diving into a head-first commitment with this form of marketing. It’s not a $1,000+ commitment like TV or radio but instead, you can do something as little as $2 a day. If you see a good return on investment then you can bump it up to your liking. The number of benefits that Google Ads has, far exceeds the risks. It really makes sense to at least give it a try. It’s worked for us so it can work for you too!

148 – Randy Fiser: The Big Cheese at ASID

Randy Fiser: The Big Cheese at ASID

Today in The Lounge we have a SPECIAL guest, CEO of ASID aka The Big Cheese: Randy Fiser. He might not have an interior design background and he isn’t an interior designer but Randy is definitely one of the most influential people in the industry.

As always please reach out to us as Nick LOVES to hear from you guys, tell us what you’re doing, what you’d like to hear on the show and ask us questions if you need advice!

Secondly, don’t forget to check out Porcelanosa‘s Life Style Magazine either online or order it by mail because guess what, it’s FREE. They feature tons of great commercial/hospitality designers and images. Their 3D rendering service is also FREE so you utilize it guys! Remodel a kitchen or bathroom for your clients. Learn more about it here.

Getting to Know Randy

Randy was born in Southern California and lived there until he was 11 when he moved to Arizona and finished high school. Later, he went to Georgia for grad school and eventually moved to Washinton DC where he has been ever since. He received his masters in Counseling and Human Development as well as an MBA. Ever since he was little Randy knew he wanted to be in business and work with people to make an impact and leave the world a better place. So, he invested his time in consulting and large scale organizational transformation work. Later Randy’s managing and consulting work were mission driven and soon he transitioned to non-profit work on affordable housing development and education reform. He was a client of Brad Pitt’s to help rebuild New Orleans as well.

Randy’s favorite place to vacation is Bali. As long as there is an adventure and he can hike, bike, be active and go to the beach, he’s there. Good food is, of course, important too. Randy lives in a small 700 square foot apartment in DC, space isn’t important to him as he’s never home! BUT it is very well designed and FUNCTIONAL. Canadian designers built the apartments using Universal’s Design Principles so anyone could live in it, such as someone in a wheel chair or someone not in a wheelchair. This is why Randy believes design matters, it took him a year to notice and think about the wide-range functionality in his apartment because it was so well designed. Design can be both beautiful and functional to the point where you don’t notice or think about!

If you ask Randy, “beer, wine or a cocktail?”… it’s wine AND a cocktail.

A Day in the Life

Well, it’s never a typical day in the life of Randy but usually, he’s on the road. He meets with members of ASID, attends chapter events, and talks with manufacturers who want to bring their product in front of members. He meets with other associations that represent the surrounding areas of design and construction. He meets with government officials at the state and federal levels.He meets with clients who run companies, healthcare facilities, or who are homeowners. He talks about WHAT designers do and WHY design matters. Design impacts life. Randy informs us that we’re spending 93% of our time indoors now!! So human interaction with the spaces we spend the most time in defines us as human beings and affect our health. Randy does a lot of public speaking on these topics and loves it because it is what he is passionate about.

Randy thinks ASID needs to continue pushing this message and furthermore elevate it with case-studies. It’s one thing to tell people that design impacts lives but it’s another thing to prove it. One interesting thing Randy brings up is how we design spaces for people but we never take pictures of the spaces with people in them! Aesthetic is defining design but in reality, design is for functionality and for people, every space has a purpose. If you let beauty take over you dilute what design is all about! In every image of ASID’s new Head Quarters, they have people in it, the goal is to show design intent by putting people within the space who are using it. It’s like clothing, it’s better to photograph it on someone than off, as you get a better idea how the clothing works. Randy believes we need to focus less on luxury, lifestyle, brand, and aesthetics as that’s just consumerism and design is so much more.

The hardest part about Randy’s job is the misconception of what designers do, which both motivates and frustrates him. Clients don’t always understand what a designer is doing and often times the design community undersells themselves which is frustrating. This is why Randy travels around to talk about these subjects. People either benefit or hurt from a space which means they can benefit or hurt from designer’s work. The intent of a space can change an entire culture of an organization. Designers have the skills to achieve intent i.e build happiness, interactivity, acoustic comfort, or light into a space.

NEOCON Announcements

Aside from building up their glutes at Neocon, ASID’s goal is to connect with the design community. They use these communities to announce their up and coming events and messages. First off, they have an amazing example of workplace design at their new HQ. It is the first LEED and WELL platinum office in the world and they are doing pre/post-occupancy research and case studies on how the design improves productivity, engagement, and attention in staff. The second announcement is the merger of ASID’s magazine Icon (comes out 6 times a year) combined with IDC ‘s D Magazine. The name is still to be determined so SEND IN YOUR IDEAS. ASID will be holding a brand new Leadership Experience conference in San Diego for emerging professionals consisting of 300+ people representing ASID chapters and 300+ people doing leadership skills (leading one’s self, team or practice). Leadership isn’t a skill we’re trained for in design school so here is the opportunity to learn how to be one. Lastly, Platform is their other brand new retreat for principals, partners, and owners in Victoria, BC. They will have keynote speakers outside of the design industry with conversations in between discussing how to change practices or run businesses accordingly.

  • Upcoming Events

Casual Market Sept 12 – 15

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on InstagramFacebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

140 – Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer

Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer

On this episode of The Lounge, Therese Virserius joins Nick at Porcelanosa in New York to talk about her design business. She may have started out in law but today she is a multinational interior design business owner, there’s nothing unlawful about that. From Paris, Montreal, Berlin, to Brussels, Tunisia and New York Therese designs for hospitality all over the world.

Getting to Know Therese

Therese’s favorite fashion accessory is bracelets. She doesn’t have a favorite restaurant though because it honestly just depends on her mood and the weather. Home is Sweden, even though her offices are in New York and Paris, and truly she just loves all things Italy. Her friends might agree that wine is her drink of choice, whether it’s a light red or a Sauvignon Blanc. Therese travels 50% out of the month so its safe to say she’s a busy woman, but one place she’s never designed in is the Maldives, and she would love the opportunity (hint, hint).

How Mandarin Started it All

Therese never thought she would be doing interior design or end up in New York because her background is in law. When she was young, Therese was very interested in Asia so she left Sweden for China to get a BA in Mandarin. In China, she strictly did management and logistics for IKEA but soon began oil painting and having her own exhibits in Shanghai. Therese wanted an outlet to express herself, even more, so she opened up a store for product design. Her drawings were brought to life and made into products. She created anything from silverware to glassware, candles, fabrics, and napkins.

After 3 years of chaos in Shanghai, Therese moved to New York and went back to school at New York School of Interior Design to get some formal training. She worked and interned for Jeffrey Beers where she was tossed directly into the hospitality fire. Her first project was to renovate The Westin Fort Lauderdale.

The Business Today

The clients who come to Virserius Studio are ready for a change. When sourcing she looks for slim, delicate lines, but must remember hospitality pieces have to be durable. She wants products that could stand alone in an empty room and still ‘wow’ you. Her style is eclectic, and she enjoys mixing colors and patterns.

Therese’s New York office houses 13 people, from architects to designers, and her Paris office is more quaint with only 4. Therese often finds herself wishing she could be in both offices at once as meetings can sometimes overlap. Time is her biggest challenge – since she’s always traveling back and forth. Therese doesn’t micromanage her team as she believes they should be able to run without her. They need the freedom to be creative and let their minds flow on their own, but she also doesn’t want them to feel alone, so she checks in multiple times a day. Her role is to make sure the ship doesn’t go off course, make life easier for her designers, and make sure her people are happy (both clientele and her team).

There’s no slow period in Therese’s life. On top of it all she also still designs products, does custom furniture for every project, and owns an art company in Paris. She does everything from art printed on floors and walls, to sculpture, mixed media, prints and even an outdoor furniture line. See more at www.walterswicker.com

Dealing with bookkeeping and accounting are her least favorite task but she knows it is a necessity to be involved. Therese doesn’t have a favorite space to create because the experience of staying in a hotel is a journey. It begins when you enter and ends when you leave, so you must tell a cohesive story.

Current Projects

Her firm has been working on a year-long competition and was awarded The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, a 3,000 room renovation. It’s got “just the right amount of bad” Therese says, and the target completion is in 2018

They’re also repositioning a hotel in Tunisia to change the way it operates and facilitates. For example, adding in a sky lounge and move the presidential suite to a different location. She tells us the creme de la creme stay in this hotel, so no pressure.

She also collaborates with students to do artistic expressions in hotels like in Hotel Bloom. At any given point, she is working on 10-15 at a time.

Learn more at www.virseriusstudio.com

Chaise Lounge Updates

We’re gearing up for High Point Market fall 2018. Stay in the loop on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

The Student Lounge is up and running! Visit us to hear podcast episodes produced for students, by students.

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

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