Visit the WOW!House at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

Did you see The WOW!House at The Design centre Chelsea Harbour?

If you missed it I have some great news for you! Did you know that you can still visit WOW!House 2022 for free via a 3D Tour?

What is The WOW!House?

The WOW!House is the first ever designer show house in the UK and certainly one of the most talked about interiors events of 2022. The WOWHouse took over Design Centre Chelsea Harbour’s central walkway, known as Design Avenue, for the month of July creating individual rooms curated by the world’s most renowned interior designers and makers and sponsored by Design Centre Chelsea Harbour showrooms.

The house is a mixture of design styles with each room created by different designers. Enter through an impressive entrance foyer designed by Shalini Misra and go on to discover more living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms. As you tour the house you can access QR codes in each room that refer to individual showrooms and craftspeople that supplied the furnishings, fabrics and decoration as well as the designers that created the rooms for more information.

How the first designer show house in the UK was created

The concept of the designer show house is not new. In the US The Kips Bay designer show house has been running since 1973, inspiring designers and supporting charities that help disadvantaged children. However here in the UK, Wow!House is the first time a show house has been created on this scale.

In this interview Claire Germain, CEO of Design Centre Chelsea Harbour explains how the idea was born during a coffee she shared with Bernie de Le Cuona, CEO of de Le Cuona, a fabric house renowned for the finest quality linens and fabrics. Bernie expressed to Claire the need and opportunity for the Design Centre to host a show house to showcase design talent in the UK and during the lockdown Claire took the opportunity to put the plan into action.

 

The Wowhouse design centre chelsea harbour

The Drawing Room by Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen

My WOW!House highlights

Entering the WOWHouse was a truly magical experience. An explosion of creativity and design to inspire. What is so wonderful about the WOWHouse was summed up for me whilst chatting to designer, TV presenter and United in Design founder Alexadria Dauley who commented that the WOWHouse is an opportunity to for designers to freely express creativity without the restraint of a client brief.

The results of this can clearly be seen in the layers and layers of fabric, not just on furniture but on walls and ceilings too. Colour and pattern combined to great effect alongside the most interesting collections of decorative objects, artworks and antiques. The WOWHouse was also truly immersive in it’s use of the soundscape by Peter Adjaye and Scentscape by Dr Vranjes.

Top 3 WOW!House rooms

It is really hard to choose favourites when surrounded by so many inspiring rooms but design loves are a very personal thing, an artistic expression of our lifestyle and the things we love and aspire to. So I’ve chosen rooms I connected with for various reasons which I’ve explained here.

The Day Room by Kit Kemp and Minnie Kemp

The Day Room designed by Kit Kemp and Minnie Kemp, I loved for it’s explosion of colour and creativity. I’ve always been fond of the Arts and crafts and Bloomsbury group as my grandparents had lots of pieces which are still around today – like my uncle’s sofa and chair that he’s had reupholstered every 15 years in the same colour Morris and Co Pimpernel ever since I can remember!

The beautiful Bloomsbury inspired hand painted cabinet painted by Tess Newall reminds me of the painted furniture at Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (sister of author Virginia Woolf) and the heart of the Bloomsbury group which is close to my home in East Sussex and somewhere I love to visit.

 

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The Day Room by Kit Kemp and Minnie Kemp

The de Le Cuona Living Room by United in Design

The de Le Cuona living room was a breath of fresh air showcasing timeless, elegant design through classic upholstery in their fine linens and beautiful bespoke details through their accessories collection.

However the most remarkable thing about the de Le Cuona room was that instead of collaborating with an established designer, they gave the opportunity to two young desgingers on the United in Design apprentice scheme. Founded by designers Sophie Ashby and Alexandria Dauley the scheme aims to create more diversity and inclusion in the design industry by partnering with established brands in the design world to open up more opportunities to young designers from black, Asian, ethnic minority and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

I not only loved the design in this room but as a marketer I admire the brand’s innovative approach take the opportunity of using their presence at a high profile event to represent their brand values by raising awareness and giving back.

The two young designers Roshu Shrestha and Christine Omorere did an amazing job designing and project managing the installation of the room in the Wow House and they now have an enviable first portfolio piece to start their careers with. I hope this is a tradition that will continue with other brands in the future.

 

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Living Room by de Le Cuona

Tissus d’Helene Bedroom by Joanna Plant

Back in August 2021 on my Instagram I posted on how I noticed a trend appearing in skirts and stripes everywhere. I loved it and I asked designers how they felt about it. Not everyone was a thrilled as I was to see so much frilly fabric around. In the poll results only 23% were “Just for the frill of it” where as 77% were “Not a fan of the frill”.

One thing I noticed about WOWHouse is that there were frills everywhere! Layers upon layers of luxury fabrics, not a chair leg or bed base in sight, especially in this fairy tale Princess and the Pea bedroom for Tissus d’Helene by Joanna Plant which was full of frills and stripes too.

The other thing that drew me to this room was the French cast iron pastry table with the marble top at the foot of the bed. I’m pretty sure this is the same table that I helped my antique dealer friend lift into the back of a van on it’s way to it’s next owner. It was quite an ordeal and it nearly finished us off! You wouldn’t believe how heavy the marble is. Seeing it in this glamorous room was like catching up with an old friend – “Hey I remember you and look at you now!” You can just see the corner of it in this picture so here’s a link to see more.

 

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Bedroom for Tissus d’Helene by Joanna Plant

 

So there’s my round up for you. If you missed the opportunity to visit this year here is a link to where you can still take a free virtual 3D walk through tour of the Wow!House on the design centre website. I predict the Wow!House will be even bigger and better next year so book early.

Which was your favourite room and why did you love it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

 

A guide to tagging brands on Instagram for interior designers

Well hello there. It’s been a while since I shared a blog post with you all here. I was wondering what I should write about and decided to take my own advice which also happens to be one of the first insights I share in my guide for interior designers on blog writing in my ebook – 365 Blog Post Ideas for Interior Designers.

Q. What should I write about in my blog?

A. Write something which you get asked about all the time

So here is a question that interior designers ask me all the time…

 

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When I post a project I’ve designed on Instagram should I share the suppliers that I have used by tagging them in the post?

It is a straight forward yes or no question… or so you might think, however this one splits opinion between interior designers.

One of the major objections that interior designers have about this is they feel that if they tell everyone where they sourced everything the clients will just go out and buy the items themselves, and not use their interior design services.

This really doesn’t matter at all and here’s why. If the reader is a DIYer who’s looking for inspiration for furniture shopping then they are simply not your ideal client or target audience. There is probably no way on earth you could persuade them to use your interior design services. In this case listing the suppliers actually stops those time consuming comments like, “Please could you tell me where you bought…”

On the other hand the client you’re looking for is someone who appreciates your taste and experience and your ability to design, source and curate the perfect look for their home. Alongside this you’re also taking on the time-consuming logistics of doing all that.

You’ve probably heard of the phrase cash-rich, time-poor, add to this a love of beautiful décor and an appreciation of skilled professional advice to get the right result… and you’ve found your ideal client, and relevant audience … and they’re not looking for furniture, instead they’re looking for an interior designer to find them the perfect furniture to create beautiful interiors.

As well as this depending on who your perfect client is, your suppliers may be trade only furniture retailers who don’t sell to the public at large. You may be tagging an artist, craftsperson or designer maker who has created something bespoke especially for your client. This shows that your business goes the extra mile in finding innovative and original solutions for clients. A step beyond what they may find in high street showrooms which homeowners may just as easily do themselves.

So in summary my answer is yes, tag your suppliers on your Instagram posts. There are some very positive reasons why, there’s also some pitfalls you should be aware of, read on to discover more.

One of the main reasons I believe you should tag your suppliers is that it can be an excellent way to grow your account and increase engagement. To understand more about this you need to understand how tagging works so let’s look deeper in to that.

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How can you tag an Instagram post with a brand account?

You can tag a brand Instagram account in any post format by tapping on Tag People and then typing in the account name of the brand you wish to tag. In a still image you can tap on the picture in the place where you want the tag to appear so it is in line with a particular product

What happens when you tag a brand in your Instagram post, reel or story?

Once the post is live several things happen. Each of which gives your account more visibility on Instagram in various ways

  •  The brand will receive a notification in their activity feed that you have tagged them in a post, reel or story
  • Your post will appear in the Tagged feed of the brand – as long as this is switched on, some brands switch this off to an approval mode to avoid showing pictures that don’t fit their brand aesthetic
  • The brand will get a request to add your image to their Instagram shop to showcase the products featured in the post
  • If you have tagged them in a story they will have the option to share the story on their own story feed

How does this help my interior design Instagram account to grow?

Home décor brands rely on content marketing to showcase their products to potential buyers across social media and marketing material. Photography is expensive and social media moves so quickly these days, with multiple platforms to provide content for it requires a fairly constant feed of new material for brands to keep their portfolios looking fresh and interesting. It is a common social media strategy for interior design brands to reach out to to the design community who have tagged them in a post, or even shared their brand hashtags and ask if they may share your image to their social platform.

When a brand shares your Instagram photos it instantly shows your business to thousands of people that you wouldn’t have been able to access through your account alone. This has happened to several accounts I’ve worked on and the result has been an almost instant influx of hundreds of followers to the designer’s account over the following 48hrs.

What you need to know about brands sharing your images as an interior designer

When a brand wants to share your image you’ll usually get a comment in your feed that looks like this one from one of my client’s posts…

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I can’t stress enough the importance of going to that link and reading those T&Cs before replying with that hashtag. Whilst this is a great opportunity there are a few things you should be aware of. With the rise of social media and content marketing it’s more important than ever to invest in quality photography to showcase your work. If the image is one that you took on your iPhone then you needn’t worry too much however I expect your portfolio images will have been taken by a professional photographer and here’s where things can get tricky.

At first glance you may assume that the brand just wants to share your images on their Instagram. However they will only do so if you add the hashtag or specific phrase they request in the comment. The reason for this is that often if you read the T&Cs that placing that hashtag or phrase in the comments allows them to share your content across social media channels, online platforms, print assets and third-party platforms.

 What does this mean in plain English?

Essentially that you allow them to use your image not only on Instagram but on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, their website and printed catalogues they produce. In addition third party platforms could see your image on a retailer’s website or in a magazine advert, newspaper or online article… pretty much anywhere really.

 Why is this a problem for my interior design business?

As I mentioned earlier if you took the photo on your iPhone then it’s unlikely to be a problem. However if you’re using professionally shot images before agreeing to anything you’ll need to check your agreement with your photographer.

Photographers will often license the images for online use on your website and social media however these agreements may not include use on other social media or printed materials. Always check with your photographer and give the brand the option to contact them to license the pictures if necessary otherwise both you and the brand could find yourself in hot water.

Overall I recommend tagging your posts on Instagram where possible. It can raise your profile, bring you more followers and create more engagement almost instantly, but just before you agree to that hashtag please do make sure you check with your photographer!

Has a brand Instagram account ever shared one of your interior design images on Instagram? I’d love to hear about it. Did it bring you any more followers? Did you get some enquiries? Leave me a comment below.

Learn more about how to reach your ideal clients through social media marketing strategies, click here to get in touch with our team …

 

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Vegan Interior Design – Know your Niche

Vegan interior design is definitely a niche market, however defining your target market is the key to success in any business. Veganism hits a chord with today’s conscious consumers. These days people are more aware of the effect of unsustainable consumption on our planet they are changing their diet as well as their lifestyle choices. As a result vegans are one of the largest and fastest growing lifestyle groups across the world with many new products and services appearing to serve this growing group of consumers.

As interior design is such a competitive business, it’s important to promote yourself as a specialist in your field so you can find your ideal customer. Follow your passions when defining your niche and success will follow.  

In this post Chloe Bullock of Materialise Interiors, a BIID registered designer and the first vegandesign.org certified designer in the UK tells us about the rising market in her specialism of ethical sustainable and vegan interior design.

 

Tell us about your career in interior design

My background is after loving art & design (and it’s history) at school, sixth form and art college,  I studied Furniture and Product Design for four years at Nottingham Trent University. After graduation over 25 years ago and was chosen to exhibit at New Designers where I won Consumer Product Design award.  

After a spell of designing for a furniture company, I was lucky to get an opportunity to work in retail design at the head office for ethical retailer The Body Shop. This began 10 happy years of conscious design education. There within the newly formed retail design team, we designed retail concepts which avoided animal products, animal-tested paint, we always used sustainable timber, we avoided PVC – and we upcycled, re-used and recycled where possible.  

I was encouraged to find new materials and work with the in-house Business Ethics team. Our projects were globally tested. I was even able to take a trial store concept to Australia where I worked for 9 months on it’s implementation. Such happy days!

After 10 years I felt empowered and ready to set up on my own.  It was hard to leave but I needed new challenges and I was lucky to then go on to work for a wide variety of commercial clients.  I did some sensible things whilst planning to leave including saving up and overpaying my mortgage. I knew I was stepping out into the unknown but I felt I had to try it!

How did you start Materialise Interiors?

In the beginning, word of mouth helped me enormously and a number of clients were repeat ones.  Colleagues in professional services recommended me and I have worked with a building contractor on multiple projects. I’ve very grateful for that start I had.  A couple of years in, I survived the 2008 financial crisis which was a horrible bumpy ride for many in the building industry around me. There was no planning, business case or marketing plan for the business.  I was fortunate that one project led to another. Where I could I have always tried to specify the better specifications I learnt whilst at The Body Shop. But after some years I felt a huge urge to gain more education. I also felt I needed to stop and have a plan… perhaps I should have said no to some of the projects?!

First step was to join the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) primarily to continue my learning.  I’m a keen learner anyway but I also love the idea of HAVING to do lots of Continuing Professional Development (CPD)! In addition to this I wanted to formalise that I was an interior designer after all these years or relevant experience. I really found it to be a good move as it protects my clients assurances on my professionalism, qualifications, experience and insurance.

 

How did you move into Vegan Interior Design?

When I heard about the VeganDesign.org course a couple of years ago I leapt on it so I could top up my knowledge!  There are many ways animals are used in the interiors industry – in the production of leather – suede – skins – wool – silk – down – feathers – fur – paint – adhesives.   Backed with facts from PETA investigations, the VeganDesign.org course highlighted many areas…..

  • animal welfare in the wool industry,
  • the fact that leather is not the by product (meat is),
  • Chinese and Indian leather is not only bovine (basically it can be any animal skin),
  • the horror of live-plucked down,
  • the appalling conditions that leather tannery workers work in and the devastating effect of the chemicals on their health, and the conditions for communities in Bangladesh where tannery chemicals flow into the rivers where they wash and fish.  
  • Closer to home, some paint brands unfortunately still test on animals. We need to ask “is the end product or the ingredients tested on animals?”

I also don’t think these are concerns only for vegans. In the way people don’t want cruelty in their cosmetic, toiletry or cleaning product choices.  It’s not just about vegan interior design, whether your perspective is the animals, people, the environment or health – there are multiple reasons for exploring alternatives that avoid the use of animals in interior specifications.  

Ethical and Sustainable Alternatives

More and more alternatives are becoming available.  Technology is moving at a rapid rate and dare I say it – ‘natural’ is not necessarily as natural as you might hope. Most likely it is heavily chemical-laden and ‘natural’ may be a myth and no longer be the right fabric or finish to use. Many ‘natural’ products harbour dust which is a problem for allergy sufferers.   Similarly there’s so many exciting developments that are happening in the fashion industry that are beginning to overflow into the interiors and automotive industries such as lab grown leather and leather derived from food waste (pineapple leaf fibre, mushrooms, apple fibres and coconuts).  

It’s really an area I hope other designers will explore and consider for their client’s projects.  In a similar way to the fashion industry, I feel that the whole concept of ‘Conscious consumption’ is the future for use of the earth’s resources in our industry. Where’s is it from. What’s it’s environmental impact? Is it reusable or repairable?  After some uses is it recyclable? I feel it’s the duty of designers to have a good knowledge of what we are putting in our clients homes and businesses. Likewise we need to guide our clients through the process. I feel so happy to have my personal values coupled with my company’s now.  It feels very authentic and I now feel like I’m working on a passion project rather than just working.

 

What sort of projects do you work on?

Mainly I work on commercial projects and then help clients with their homes afterwards.  I love a project that includes branding and a shopfront as that’s my background. I enjoy them all and don’t particularly want to specialise – although restaurants/bars and offices are particularly enjoyable.  I’d SO love to design a vegan restaurant with a vegan interior! I have my feelers out!

 

No two projects are the same.  There’s lots of challenges designing for spaces that have high footfall and I really enjoy that.  I’m also enjoying applying my learnings from healthy building movements such as WELL, Fitwel® and Building Biology. I’ve been busy studying them all!   In February I passed the exam to be a Fitwel® Ambassador.  Of course I always try to incorporate as many animal and eco-friendly specifications.  Clients are usually very receptive. There’s many convincing reasons to choose them – and it often doesn’t effect the budget either.

What are the key considerations when clients choose you as their designer?

My sales funnels are from many directions.  Word of mouth, Google searches, social media, networking… Many clients don’t know about my the added values I can offer.  For some like Real Patisserie in Brighton it compliments what they do really well and they can talk about their whole approach to their business – right through to their spaces.

How do you ensure your trade supply network uphold your ethical, sustainable and vegan interior design vision and values

This can be difficult when you are a team of one.  I don’t have the excellent support I had at The Body Shop.  Suppliers can sometimes be loose with the truth – or it can take a while to get a clear answer. There are many certifications and standards you can use.  I always look for certifications such as Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), VeganDesign.Org badge, BRE A+ Rating, Soil Association label, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), EU Ecolabel, GreenScreen, Good Weave, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and zero VOC.

Thought for the day.

I know we’ve got enough on our plates doing the job we do.  Everyone thinks it’s glamorous – it’s not! Creative – yes, but for about 5% of the time. And well paid? I’m still yet to crack accurate estimating of project time – I don’t know about you?!  We like our clients and have their best interests at heart – but they can be challenging at times too. Finally I’d love it if you stop to think for a moment about what you are buying. Where is it from, how long it will last, what’s the environmental cost and where is it going to.  It’s your big chance to help make change. All our small steps will add up!

Chloe Bullock

Materialise Interiors