Designer Series: Dennis Miller

January 2, 2013

Featured Designer: Dennis Miller
New York, NY |

Headshot - Dennis Miller

The gleaming white floors and walls of the Dennis Miller Associates showroom at the New York Design Center showcase some of the most beautiful, premium contemporary products in the city.  Having the right product is essential to the success of a trade showroom and having a great team to create and execute the designer luxury experience is equally essential.  DMA has both.

When I first met Dennis in 2009 at the showroom seminar series that I was conducting for the NYDC, I was surprised that Dennis attended every sales and coaching session, and then went beyond that to bring me in to work independently with his sales team.  It was my naiveté that had me be surprised; if I knew Dennis as well then as I know him now I would have known to expect Dennis to be always learning, listening, thinking about what’s next, about growing his business, about gaining the competitive edge.  He’s smart, talented, perceptive, a skilled architect and designer, a lover of fine design and exquisite quality, and an astute businessperson.  In short, he’s fabulous and I’m honored that he agreed to be part of the Designer Series.  I hope you enjoy him as much as I do.

DMA showroom 1

1. What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last 5 years?

Biggest changes in the industry and our business:   The end-user client is much more informed and more demanding regarding the attainment of their “dream interior”.  It is manifest through extensive knowledge of products, price points, accessibility and  degree of customization.   They are more informed about design.  They push the design professional and the showroom to provide faster, cheaper, and more smoothly.  There is no more mystique of the decorator giving access to “secret sources”.

This has been brought about by a few things:  editorial coverage in shelter publications; the Internet, On-line shopping.

2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes – and how is that working for you?

What have we done in our business to address those changes:   improved operation of the website; offering Sale and Quick Ship items on view on the website.  Increased advertising in shelter magazines.   The new Quick Ship program is available to designers; we have mailed brochures to a targeted group, and send a general eblast.  We have aligned ourself with Bolier, who offers a complete “in-stock” program of many items.

At the same time, we educate the designer and the end-user of the value of the bench-made carefully designed product; and the importance of waiting for excellent production.

DMA showroom 2

DMA showroom 3

3. What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?

What do we predict for the future:  interior designers will continued to be challenged by retail stores and online stores: for price point, for availability, for new design.  The quality of design is excellent from these sources; the quality probably less so.  Designers must explain that to their clients.

And they may not continue to have clients, as retail stores reach out with design services.  The desirability of couture, bench-made products is diminishing, as publications promote mixing and even entire projects obtained from mass-market design stores.  Designers have to emphasize their education and expertise, not just their sourcing ability.  And they must educate the client to appreciate quality.

4 thoughts on “Designer Series: Dennis Miller

  1. Very thought provoking… While I don’t doubt for a second the observations Dennis has made – in a way they don’t make sense.
    And it occurs to me they don’t make sense, not because of what the customers are doing, but because of what the marketers at ‘our’ level of Design are doing. And that, essentially, is to abdicate the field of play to the current mavens of mass culture.
    The reality is that the separation between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have nots’ continues to widen – it is a gulf. There is more wealth than ever before. Yet there is no coherent force being applied to the taste and spending habits of that top 10%.
    Where are magazines, for example, like “Bespoke”, “Custom”, “One Off”, etc. that would speak to the value, appeal, availability and sources for the things that can’t be duplicated. That speak to custom design like the art it is… collectible, unique, artistic and functional. That derides the ‘throw away’ aspects of all other furnishings that americans stuff into their homes, that has ‘look’ but not ‘last’ as components.
    If Luxe in this country could muster a coherent game plan and present a unified force there is a lot of money to be made by presenting a powerful alternative to what’s available by driving business to those sources vs. the missionary work that DMA and others has to do in the current marketplace.
    Just my observations.
    Thanks for the jolt, Dennis and Jody!

    • Thanks, Jim. There is a new movement afoot “Q” to watch for, that is driven by Rebecca Miller. It addresses what both you and Dennis are pointing to and might fill the chasm between.

    • Thanks for reading and responding, Christine. And I would LOVE to come to Ohio again…and have a new seminar “Selling Premium” that is great for designers AND showrooms! Hope to see you soon and may 2013 be your best year yet!!

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