Business Interior Design

How technology is disrupting the interior design sector

9th May 2017

The traditional business model of interior design is being challenged. The advances in technology are making this possible. It’s not a bad thing, but if you’re in this sector, it’s something you need to be aware of. Being so active in the interior design sector, and in a unique position where I see inside so many interior design firms, there is a definite shift of business. The higher end of the market is so competitive and there seem to be less and less clients. But it’s that large middle market that now want interior design services, but they are budget conscious. So what’s the solution? Technology of course.

I’m sure you’ve seen them advertised on social media, but there is an enormous rise of online interior design and decorating offerings. Some are even backed by venture capital funds that are based in the city in particular around Old Street (Silicon Roundabout), which gives us a big clue as to their business model. Build a platform, hire freelancers to perform the service, and sell reasonably priced services to a large middle market. AirBnB has done it, Uber has done, Mr & Mrs Smith has done it and the list goes on.

They’re called disruptors and Homewings – the newest online interior design service is doing a really good job of their tech start up. Even before launching, they’re averaging 150+ projects a month and almost £1m revenue. That’s pretty impressive.

I recently did a trial of the Homewings service to understand how their business model works and also to show you how much value you will get for the very reasonably priced service.

Starting off with the brief, you’re paired with a designer that matches your personality and brief. I was paired up with Kirsty Whitfield, a part-time interior designer.

My fictional brief was to design a bedroom that was luxurious but with a fun feel to the space. Budget was £3000-£5000, and I wanted new furniture, new lighting, a well thought out furniture lay-out, accessories and style guidance.

From there I was emailed a username and log in to the Homewings software, which helped you see exactly what would happen and when. Speed is of the essence here, and you get two weeks with each designer, but it’s very well planned and time is taken to ensure the brief is correct before they move ahead.

From here we moved onto moodboards. There was a lot of attention given to each image, and I had the opportunity to make a comment and Kirsty was very quick to respond.

It’s always interesting working with a designer to see how they interpret your ideas and thoughts. I loved the way that Kirsty was insistent on introducing the green into the scheme. I love blue and would have everything blue and gold, but Kirsty balanced it out quite well. Next up, was the renderings. These are great to help you understand how the room would look. I had trouble with the wall colour, so I was given a few options. Click through the gallery below to see the images.

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I was then sent a floor plan, along with full set up instructions and a spreadsheet telling me where to order everything. Nothing was bespoke or made to order, so I could simply click on the link and purchase from the retailer.

The room that was designed for me was something that I would never have thought of myself, it pushed my boundaries – especially on the colour. This is what designers do well, they help you create spaces that you would never have done yourself.

I love the fact that this service is affordable. Design enhances the way in which we live our day to day lives, and this should be available to everybody. My day to day work focuses on the very high end of interior design, I see the most incredible projects, but I also know that level of design costs a lot of money. Homewings are doing more than just creating a tech company, they are also democratising design, and that can only be good.

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  • Susan Van Meter

    Hi, Interior Style Hunter. Thank you or this piece on online interior design. This has been going on in the US for the last 4 years and I really wanted to do this in the UK when I came back 3 years ago, its definitely the way forward to capture the middle market. I also believe that apps will start to play a bigger part in visualisation and measuring of space. Thanks!

    • Hi Susan, it’s very interesting to watch the market changing. Savvy design firms might diversify by creating a diluted service at a lower price point, technology can easily enable this.