December 3, 2012
Featured designer: Bill Barr
Mattapoisett, MA | http://billbarr.wordpress.com/
Although I had been following his blog for quite some time, I just met Bill earlier this year after bumping into his husband (who is a friend from many years ago) at a local event…and we made plans for the three of us to get together soon. Bill is THE designer for the SouthCoast, the region between Providence and Cape Cod, and environs beyond. He works for Surroundings, a small high end design oriented retail location in Mattapoisett. He’s a tastemaker and a teacher; his aesthetic and discriminating eye extend beyond interiors and his generosity in explaining design elements to his readers is articulate and spot on. Plus, he’s handsome, charming and hilarious, a wicked combination! Take a moment to get his perspective on his corner of the design industry. Thanks, Bill.
1. What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last 5 years?
The retail customer for the most part is gone. We used to sell off the floor and had a good cash and carry business. Lamps, rugs, chairs would move with regularity and the showroom was kept fresh simply buy making good choices that suited our dedicated client base. We still have a strong business but our customer is more custom based and want things specifically tailored to their project.
2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes – and how is that working for you?
We reduced the size of the showroom. Regulars miss the number of vignettes we used to curate, many liked to come through just for inspiration but the retail customer has virtually disappeared and the “tire kickers” weren’t spending so we cut costs and reduced by two-thirds and It’s working perfectly well. We are still able to show the custom clients our taste level with the smaller showroom and that we represent quality vendors and we have converted the remaining retail shoppers into custom clients for the most part.
3. What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?
I think that clients with strong capacity will continue to rely on interior designers to help choose furnishings, accessories and art but will look for strong project managers as well as personalities they are comfortable working with vs needing total or complete direction of the over all aesthetic. Clients have a stronger sense of what they want these days and want to work with educated designers who know the process and can alleviate costly mistakes and remove burden from the client by being organized and a step ahead of the client (and the contractor).