technology interior design

4 Amazing Technology Tips For Interior Designers

Have you ever thought to yourself – I have all of these apps and new technology that are lots of fun, but is there a way I can put it to good use in my business or on a project? Well…You betcha!

When I first started out in the interior design business our tools included velum paper, graphite pencils, gum erasers, straight edges, scaled rulers and protractors. Well we know….much of that has fallen by the wayside. Now we have our computers with programs like AutoCAD (for drafting) and PhotoShop. Then it dawned on me that there is so much more out there. Apps that we are using daily to entertain or amuse ourselves can actually enhance our power to communicate with our Clients. They can also help us gather useful information that was difficult to access.

What on earth am I talking about? Here are a few examples:

PINTEREST: I actually find that there are some Clients who are just not visual. Though they see our portfolio and recognize good design, they appreciate access to instant ideas for what we have in mind for their project. It dawned on me that we can actually use Pinterest as a tool to start this conversation. I set up “boards” for the project and start “pinning” so that the Client can see actual examples of styles, colors or components we have in mind, instantly! I encourage our Clients to get into it by “pinning” images too. It’s like the modern day version of tear sheets I pulled out of decorating magazines. What is terrific is that these images can now be quickly and easily shared with a group. A dialog quickly develops. Sorry…can’t resist – “A picture is worth a thousand words”…pinterest

GOOGLE DRIVE: I take photos of so many things during the course of my week; some examples are “before photos” of projects, things that inspire me in a wide range of venues and even specific problem solving details for current or future projects. I download these photos into files that I label and share them with other Sygrove staff members and even Clients. It starts a dialog of creativity and gets the juices flowing.google drive

“DRONE PROBES”: This one I learned from a Resident Manager. While I was at a jobsite I asked if he knew what was in the ceiling and how the existing air conditioning ductwork laid out. Did he know if there were beams that were not visible above the dropped ceiling? I was surprised to learn that he had devised a drone of his own by taking a toy remote controlled battery operated miniature car with a “Go Pro” and a light strapped to it. He would go up on a ladder and let his invention go into the ceiling so he could see obstacles and the clear spaces without doing unnecessary damage to the ceiling like boring several probe holes that would need to be repaired. Brilliant!gopro

FACETIME: Though nothing equals direct design involvement or the feel of samples or seeing them in the actual space, but I find the FaceTime option gives those who cannot be in attendance a viable option to be involved. The entire presentation can be made while Clients who are inaccessible but who have computer access to be in “attendance”. In the case of working with a Design Committee or a Board, one of the greatest challenges is to find a date and time to meet. This gives us all more flexibility. We can share comments and feedback, questions and answers. FaceTime is a great way to keep a project moving forward.facetime

I can’t wait to see what else is on the horizon. Do you know of any other common software or hardware that we can use? Would love to hear about it!

Coop / Condo Lobby Redesign? 5 Surefire Ways to Avoid Disaster

If you own a coop / condo in New York City, you may have been in this situation. At your recent board meeting, a majority of the owners complained (again) that your lobby is not functional and looks so atrocious that it’s actually hurting the value of everyone’s most valuable asset – their apartments!

But even the thought of how to go about tackling a lobby project gives the board the heebie-jeebies! I understand the trepidation. After all, redesigning a lobby (often including hallways, elevator cabs, the mailroom, and more) seems like a monumental pain in the tush. But over the years, I’ve learned a multitude of tricks that I share with the board that make my projects go very smoothly. Here are my top five tips:

5 Tips To Keep Your Lobby Interior Design Project Running Smoothly

1. Keep Decorating Committee Numbers Small
The smaller the better. We suggest a committee size of no greater than a group of 7. The rule of thumb is the larger the group; the less chance for consensus and unity. Larger groups mean more chance for dissention and project delays. It has been proven that a like-minded smaller group is exceedingly more effective and productive.

photo 1

2. Issue A Design Related Survey
 A survey permits the opportunity for those residents who want to participate but cannot due to time constraints or the size of the committee to still be involved. Everyone should have an opportunity to participate in some fashion.  We feel strongly that this is a “good neighbor policy” to keep the project inclusive.

photo 2

3. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
Most unrest and disasters can be avoided if the board issues regular updates announcing all aspects of the project along the way. Some examples are:

  • Top lobby designers are presently being identified and the interview process is about to begin.
  • The design firm has been hired and more information to follow.
  • There will be a “Meet The Designer Night” so mark your calendars!
  • Surveys will be available for all of you who wish to participate in the design process.
  • The project plans and specs are being prepared with an expected construction start date to be announced.

photo 3

4. A “Meet The Designer Night”
All residents deserve the opportunity to meet the selected designer. This gives a face to the project and allows the residents to ask questions, express their needs and opinions directly to the designer without being filtered by the board.

5. Present The Final Design In Advance
Have your design team present the FINAL design at a meeting for the residents. Often this is done at the annual meeting but a special meeting can be arranged. This gives residents the first hand opportunity to ask questions about the project, the logistics and how it will impact everyone’s lives.

Time and time again, we have found these 5 points to be critical to the emotional success of our projects. Can you afford to ignore them?