Thursday, January 20, 2011

Redesigning Design

I was all dressed and ready to head to Florida Tuesday morning for the Elle Decor panel discussion "Redesigning Design" at the DCOTA (Design Center of the Americas) winter market.  Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas and the Elle Decor moderator, Allison Mezzafonte, and I were snowed in and could not make it. Luckily, Stefan from Architect Design who gets photo credit today, Jennifer from Peak of Chic, and Brooke from Velvet & Linen did make it down to speak on the panel. I few of you mentioned that you disappointed that you couldn't hear me speak so I'm posting some of my answers to the questions I received from Elle Decor. Enjoy!

ED: What was your light bulb moment of saying, ‘I’m doing it, I’m starting a blog’.

HC: I had been working for a high end interior designer since 2005. During that time, I had started reading design blogs for work. It was in the summer of 2007 that Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic and Courtney Barnes of Style Court were posting about the Charlotte Moss Townhouse that was about to open in New York. The townhouse was literally one block behind where I worked and I would walk by every week to check the progress. That’s when a light bulb went off in my head. I thought that if these two bloggers in Atlanta were writing about something that was right behind me, maybe I should start my own blog. At that time, there weren’t many design blogs written by anyone who was actually a designer or working for one. I thought I could write about design from an insider perspective as well as what was going on in New York in art, architecture, photography, and fashion among other things.

ED: What has surprised you about starting a site? Let’s talk here about how you started a site, likely for inspiration/personal journal purposes—and suddenly you found yourself doing things you didn’t really intend: i.e. “writing for magazines, being hired for design projects, etc”
HC: When I started, I was working for another designer. I felt like I needed something that was my own. It began as a place to post anything that I found inspiring. After I was laid off in December 2008, the blog enabled me to go out on my own and post more about my own work which led to more clients calling me. I’ve also made some wonderful friends and business connections. Stefan Hurray of Architect Design and I traveled to Paris together and are taking a cruise and trip to Miami next month. I’m working on a bunch of new and exciting things right now that I look forward to sharing with my readers when they are ready.

ED: Where do you find inspirations for your site? How do you get inspired?
HC: Since there are so many design sites and we’re all looking at the same shelter magazines and sites, I end up looking to the fashion world or European magazines for inspiration. I read a lot in general which often peaks my curiosity about a person or subject that might end up on the blog. I also live in New York which is ripe with museum and gallery openings, fabulous events, fashion shows, store openings, etc. I can be inspired just walking down the street!

ED: How do you edit yourself?
HC: I think editing and being an editor is the most important part of writing a blog. I only post the best photos and also care about how they are ordered and the story they tell. I try to plan out the order of posts and one often leads to the next. There is actually a method to my madness.

ED: Let’s talk about how the internet and your site/blog humanizes you. Do you think this makes you more attractive to prospective clients? Are clients more likely to come to you feeling as if they know you and your aesthetic/style? Does this work for or against you?
HC: I have posted some of my projects which clients have seen but the inspirational posts also let them know if we have the same tastes and style. If you like what I like on my blog, than we’d work well together. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they feel like they know me already when they meet me because of my blog.

ED: What are you hearing from online readers? What do they want? What are they hungry for? HC: I have a lot of people contact me about making a career switch to design. They know that I was able to do it and are seeking advice. I also get a lot of people who ask me to help them find a job. I try to help when I can but unfortunately, I can’t help everyone. I have a business to run!

ED: How has the role of designer changed since clients are spending more time online/ seeing more things for themselves online vs. what used to be to-the-trade?
HC: Clients are more informed and have more ideas. I think the days of a client just letting a designer do what they want are over. They want to be more involved and a part of the process. They have ideas but need a professional with experience to help them pull it all together. I always shop from a variety of sources some online, some to the trade only, the flea market, and my favorite shops.

ED: Why, in your opinion, is it so vital for designers to be online?
HC: I think important to have a website so potential clients can check out your work before they contact you. I think a website is especially important for anyone who has a product to sell. I can’t post about any product or company that doesn’t have a link because my readers tend to get upset if they can’t purchase a product online. Even just a landing page with your contact information is better than nothing!

ED: Let’s talk about social media: if a designer doesn’t want to commit to a blog, is social media enough?
HC: I don’t think a blog is for everyone but you should probably be on Facebook and/or Twitter. Your website portfolio doesn’t often get updated because projects can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years to complete. A Facebook page enables you to post updates and keep yourself on people’s radar. I also think Twitter for getting your name out.  We focus a lot on technology but it's still just as important to go out and meet people in person.  I've made a lot of great connections at parties, events, and panel discussions.

7 comments:

Brittany {Gallery No. Eight} said...

Great post! It's always neat to hear why others started their blog and give advice to newer bloggers :)

Hope you have a lovely day!

Natasha said...

Heather... you are right, I was totally disappointed!! I am so glad you took the time to share this Q & A with us anyhow :)

See you next time!
Northern Light

ruffledrose.com said...

Great interview, Heather!

Ivy Lane said...

I just saw on Brooke's blog that you didn't make it...and then POOF! here you are with your interview! So glad I stopped by! Great interview, thanks for sharing your insight!

jones said...

Hi Heather----yes, I need to get that Facebook page working and updated. You are spot-on about the lead time for updating a website. Thanks for the push (Mini-Beast says "hi"--he's fat and has taken control of my bed).

Pam said...

Great Q&A session, Heather. Thanks for posting, it's very inspirational to see how well things are going for you in your blog and design career!!

NYCLQ said...

Great insights. Thanks for taking the time to share.

:D Lynda

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