Designer Series: Bill Parker

July 2013

Featured designer: Bill Parker
Chicago & Tucson |


Bill Parker is my best friend and I love him beyond words.  He and I met when we worked together as designers at Ethan Allen in Tucson in the early 1980’s.  We became fast friends, worked on many projects and store events together.  I am so fortunate to have learned from him as a designer and as a salesperson.  He’s a perfect example of how you can combine both of those skills and talents to operate a successful design business in Tucson and Chicago.  Bill’s passion for 18th century – furniture, textiles, porcelains, silver – informs his aesthetic sensibilities and his design projects.  He has a passion for classic elegance that imbues his lifestyle, and an inquisitiveness and pure interest in client’s desires being fulfilled beautifully that have him retain clients for years.  Bill has been a national board member of ASID and their Arizona South Chapter President and he also sits on the board of University of Arizona Museum of Art Partners’.

Our conversations about the industry and its changes over the last several years have been rich in content and inquiry of what the current need and the future holds.  Here’s what Bill has to say….

26281.  What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last 5 years?

Over the last five years we have had to downsized and tighten our business model to fit the amount of projects we have.  I have seen many showrooms at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago close over the past five years.  We now run our design business from our homes both in Chicago and Tucson.  We have trimmed our staff to just a bookkeeper and my partner and I do all of the project coordination in addition to the design work.  This actually has been a positive growing experience and really shows how creative you can be in an downturned economy.

25422.  What have you done in your business to respond to those changes – and how is that working for you?

Closing our large office and selling the building was one of our major changes to our business.  Also, trimming our staff to just a bookkeeper. This is working just fine.



27073.  What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?

I think we will be more design consultants and sell very little product just billing our time.  We will specify product the client will purchase directly from the sources. Designers will have to keep close watch of their time and make sure that all time gets billed.  It is very easy to give time away.

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