Five Things to Look for when Hiring an Interior Designer

by Christina Johnson

We are all taking strategic steps to prepare to navigate yet another unsure market. Selecting the right team for a project is one of the most important steps to make. For a successful project, here are five things to look for when hiring an interior designer. 

Efficiency and Flexibility 

First is to make sure to have a team where efficiency and flexibility are highly valued. This may sound like a given but it’s not. It takes consistent communication and a deep knowledge of the process to be able to work at the client’s speed, not the designer’s. Designers need to align with the client’s goals, and the only way to do that successfully is to be flexible. 

Consistent Senior-Level Involvement 

The next is a team that has consistent senior-level involvement. A common trend in the design industry is to use less expensive team members for most of the work to keep overall fees down. It makes some sense initially from a financial perspective, but the outcome can often mean too much of the project is handled by designers who are inexperienced. A project, especially in an unsteady market, handled by inexperienced designers will usually cost more in the long run. 

Experience with a Wide Range of Project Budgets 

The third is to select a team that has experience with a broad range of budgets. Clients may want to confirm the design firm has worked on their type of project. However, it’s more advantageous for developers to confirm designers have experience with all types of budgets, regardless of the project type. All projects are being value engineered right now; pricing is fluctuating so much it takes a team that is well versed in understanding that process to make sure a project’s bottom line is healthy. 

Local Mindset

Next is a team that can integrate into the local mindset of the project. People should not be able to walk into a space and feel like they can be anywhere — it’s impersonal, and design should be personal. Connecting with the community translates to signed leases, hotels bookings, retails sales, etc. 

Team Players 

The last is probably one of the most important. A business’s designer should feel like an extension of that business’s leadership team. Just like hiring an employee, factors of culture, personality and level of communication also are important. Many issues can be resolved with respect and consideration, and no amount of experience and talent can cover up someone being difficult to work with. 

In all this, business leaders should keep in mind that anyone can make something that looks good but, ultimately, the return on investment is partnering with someone who aligns with their business plan and enriches their bottom line.

Christina JohnsonChristina Johnson is creative director of Phoenix- and San Francisco-based Private Label International, a full-service interior design studio that develops hospitality environments and lifestyle brand experiences for clients worldwide.

Photo courtesy of Private Label International

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