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The UK’s market leader in luxury vinyl flooring Karndean Designflooring took centre stage at Molineux football stadium in Wolverhampton, on Tuesday (1st April) to present their ‘Social media for the Interior Design Profession’ in partnership with The Society of British and International Design (SBID).

With an impressive turnout of more than 40 attendees, the evening welcomed back Heather Horton, international head of digital from Karndean who led last year’s successful CPD on the ‘Social Media for Business’ as lead speaker, and Claire Ryan, Karndean’s newly appointed PR executive.

Of course, there were high expectations from the evening to match last year’s event. Kick-starting the seminar with SEO, often a confusing subject for non-techies, our speakers drilled down the most important things our designers needed to understand and presented it in a way that could be easily applied by all.

Acknowledging the ‘5,922,000,000 Google searches recorded per day last year’, Heather explained the importance of having a strategy in place to ensure your business is ranking well on search engines.

When asked for a quick show of hands for the number of people blogging in the room, we were surprised to see how many attendees were yet to start blogging. It brought the talk on to the importance of blogging and its power to help you enhance your current SEO strategy.

Highlighting engaging content, inspiring photography and videos and backlinks as the vital ingredients for a successful blog, our speakers explained from a practical point of view how to get started using their own blog – www.karndeanblog.com – as a prime example.

As busy designers, we often don’t have the time or manpower to do everything we need to do for our own online profile. This is something our speakers had clearly taken into account when addressing each subject.

There was an air of apprehension in the room on the subject of Google+. It was clear to see the change in opinion in the room as our speakers introduced this platform as the fastest growing social network at the moment with over 500 million users.  As well as giving us ideas to get creative, our social duo explained the pros and cons of this channel, concluding with the benefits far outweigh the negative of having to keep up with an extra social profile. It certainly gave us all food for thought.

To finish, we were given an insight into ‘community engagement’ and how to keep the conversation flowing. This led us to locating your social advocates and deciding the best way of engaging these audiences to talk about your brand.

Overall, I think the evening was summed up nicely by one of our designers in attendance – ‘it was refreshing to attend a talk on social media and not leave the room in a state of confusion’.

We wonder what they’ll have in store for us next time!

The latest Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event to be held by The Society of British and International Design in partnership with SBID  Partner Swedecor, explored an interesting subject; one that has no doubt been relevant, at some stage, during the careers of most Interior Designers and Architects. The event explored the benefits and challenges associated with running a multi-disciplinary practice, along with a look at where the roles of Architects, Decorators and Designers begin and end.

A packed crowd of SBID organisers and members gathered in the Saint Gobain Innovation Centre, a suitably chosen site dedicated to showcasing and promoting sustainable materials for the design and construction industries.

On the agenda were interesting talks from both Interior Designers and Architects, sharing some varying perspectives on the subject. First to open the discussion was Caroline Smith, Creative Director of Wish LondonDesign. Caroline outlined the way the role of the Interior Designer has changed over the past few decades and how this has had a subsequent impact on the blurred boundaries between Designers and Architects today. She discussed the factors that have contributed to the growing success of Wish as an interior design practice, including the need to be commercially aware – knowing what elements to prioritise budget on to achieve the greatest project success. A relevant point she raised was the importance of a mutual respect between the Interior Designer and the Architect – each party being aware of their respective roles and responsibilities, to ensure both a professional and collaborative approach to a project. 

Penny Allen, Director of Penelope Allen Design, was second speaker of the evening who showcased one of their recent residential projects, winner of the SBID International Design Awards 2013. Her interior design practice, established in 2009, has seen a flourishing success over the year, partly due to Penny’s PR focus and her knack for networking. An interesting benefit she outlined of working with Architects was the exposure to a broader spectrum of clients and subsequently maximising income. Key challenges she raised were keeping abreast of legal responsibilities and ensuring sound knowledge of Health & Safety as the Interior Designer.

A common message that was emphasised by both Penny and Caroline was the importance of the early involvement of Interior Designers on a project. It’s all too common for assumptions to be made, whether from the client, that the Interior Designer need only be involved during the final, finishing stages of a project, or from the Architect, that there is perhaps no Interior Designer getting involved at all.

This in turn opened up a number of other important considerations to the discussion – educating the client on the specific role of the Interior Designer is crucial; ensuring they understand that the breadth of duties goes far beyond the finishing textiles and a lick of paint on the walls.

Communication, perhaps the most crucial element, is required on all levels between Client, Architect and Interior Designer throughout the entire project process. Vanessa Brady, Founder of SBID and Chair of the evening, provided additional context to these points, outlining the overall challenge of interior design being recognised as a credible industry.

Since the battle exists for governing bodies to recognise the difference between Decorators and Designers and to see the importance of the latter, it’s perhaps no wonder the challenge exists for Clients to understand this as well.

Third to share their views for the evening was Graham Harris, Managing Director of SHH Architects. SHH, an esteemed, full-service interior design and architecture firm, has been well established in the industry for over two decades. With a very approachable presence to the audience, Graham discussed the egoistic attitude often felt by many Architects towards Interior Designers and how SHH have developed a clear and respectful line between the two – “Architect: space, place, light. Interior design: colour, human scale, tactility”.

A valid benefit he outlined of working collaboratively was the commercial aspect, providing the client with a single cost upfront for both elements of the project, ensuring cost efficiency and transparency of financials, in turn, crucial to building solid relationships with the client and all parties.

As I sipped my wine, explored the centre and chatted with those in attendance, I grasped how much food for thought the evening and its discussions had provided me, a handful of ‘watch-outs’ when approached by a client on the overall collaboration process, the increased sense of determination I felt for raising awareness of interior design and all it entails, along with the desire for a potential Designer/Architect relationship to grow as organically and respectfully as it should.  

Author: Shanna Rogan, emerging Interior Designer and founder of interior-imagination

To see more pictures from the event, please visit our Facebook page here.

Photos provided by Rosangela Photography

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