Cheaper isn't always the most Cost Effective option.
Updated: Feb 9, 2019
In this day and age, we have so many clients asking us how we determine our price vs the big home stores whom, for this purpose shall remain nameless. As a designer I have seen some of the biggest names in furniture and decor come and go. Its hardly a matter of if, but often rather- when, it will change. Being consistent in our approach to furniture, decor and quality is essential. What you have to consider is, we as designers of furniture and interiors - bring with us an educated and informed expertise to refine the design of an item or how it is made.
Bespoke services at our firm ensure we are well informed about quality and are able to alter, change or manipulate a design to better suit the client and the client's expectations for end use. Few clients in this economic climate expect the whole enchilada when it comes to the luxury of feathered down seats etc, which many international bespoke upholsterers may offer. Also, frankly it may not be climate conducive to us down south of the equator to do some of these things. However..if requested we will definitely be accommodating with good sound advice, based on our 25 years experience too.
Firstly - it is fair to consider that many home stores buy their furniture en masse from countries like India or China. And frankly we cannot expect off the cuff to compete with prices on some items - save for the fact that our margins are slimmer when compared to a department store. Our prices may be very similar though but ours is not a mass produced story, but rather a bespoke intimate boutique experience where the client gets to discuss the details and changes they wish to make or delivers their expectations on bespoke of an item. Many design shops today even stock items you will see across the board at their competitors and often in the same colours, fabric or finishes. An immediate sign the item is imported from a mass supplier in a country like China or such. Now for the average household this may be more than adequate and it often is. The machinery and equipment available at some of these companies are without a doubt - unbelievable.
However... what you are not getting along with this purchase is the safeguard of a good fabric or a genuine quality item at times. Again, the same cannot be said for all of it. However... if our locally sourced, locally produced and locally manufactured items compare as favourably or better, at virtually the same prices... maybe, just maybe it is better to buy locally where you have more value for quality and better after sales care.
A client once quipped at me, she was a well trained and highly educated professional, she doesn't just..and I quote almost verbatim... "throw a few cushions on a sofa to feel good and make herself a living." Well, resisting the urge to say something clever, I must respond saying designers have a far greater value than playing home maker to our tough clientele. If everything is reduced to price, then you must consider that the goods you buy may often not measure up or be designed for what you intend it to do. We see this every day, and while we are budget conscious when we do a design, having researched and shopped ourselves to a frenzy haggling prices and negotiating quality for our clients... something should be said for the expertise and skill we bring to the table and our quality should do the same. Don't get me wrong, I know many of you are someone's creative partner with flair and not to put your enthusiastic artistic side down (that's downright awesome), but there is a job we designers do that took us some year's to qualify for. This factor is included in our fee which should be separate from the goods we sell. After all, we have a professional service level and we sell goods to earn a living. Fees cover expertise, time and intangible risks, while sales margins cover overheads and salaries etc. (I will get to the charges of a good designer in another article to come...). It is unreasonable to expect simply one or the other. Granted some designer's do that, but I am willing to bet they struggle to make ends meet if they run a sizeable firm or clientele.
Not to mention the input of a highly creative team of professionals whom we employ or collaborate with, who assist you in making things work, sourcing the best manufacturers and running around at your behest to make sure you get what you expect in quality of the better fabrics with higher rub counts and durability etc- to pay for. Add to all this - the boast of a new item or once off in the line of stylish goods from a quality conscious brand - then a 5-10% price difference should really be the least of your problems. And then there's the environment to consider. We really need to stop the end waste factor so investing in timeless furniture that lasts seems to be a consideration we should return to, rather than buying something which we only expect to last for just a few short years - especially if re purposing it is highly unlikely.