Last week at the 1stdibs headquarters in New York, the Decorative Furnishings Association held a meeting to address a number of pressing issues affecting the design industry including a revamp of its consumer marketing campaign and whether to open design centers to consumers.
Kicking off the meeting, Karen Marx of Elle Decor and Ryan Brown of House Beautiful presented a new concept for the public service ad campaign currently titled "Why a Designer?" The new campaign will show a photograph of a previously published interior proprietary to each magazine and a headline to the effect of: "Do you like what you see here?" or, "Do you want this look?" The ads will be more integrated with each magazine's content, and therefore more effective, said Marx and Brown. The call to action will direct consumers to DFA's Find Great Design website and their local design centers, where they may then be connected with a designer.
Traditional Home Publisher Beth Brenner addressed the topic of designer exclusivity vs. consumer access in her presentation. "In order for the industry to move forward, the consumer has to be courted. We have to have a more direct conversation because they are the ones directing the purchases for their home," she said.
"We did garner endorsement by the showroom owners for greater consumer marketing and showroom access. We agreed almost unanimously to guide access to our showrooms, and welcome all who are inspired by our new consumer marketing campaign with our media partners," said DFA Executive Director Steve Nobel.
By September, DFA plans to welcome all consumers with an introduction to the value of the design experience. To do that, members will prepare showroom staffs to inspire all visitors with the features and benefits of showroom products, as well as explain clearly an agreed-upon policies toward sampling, pricing and purchasing.
"We are also going to renew our commitment to the trade as the preferred provider of value throughout the design experience," said Nobel. "Professional interior designers are integral to the success of the entire design ecosystem, so DFA members will continue to cooperate with ASID in promulgating standard credentialing and helping them to build sustainable businesses."
On the subject of pricing, the DFA is considering a comprise: to present prices with a clear explanation of what they mean to trade and non-trade visitors. "We acknowledge the decades-old debate to standardize on a single format (e.g., MSRP, Wholesale to-the-trade, both simultaneously or even some tiered combination thereof). However, this step toward greater transparency does at least add integrity to the various formats used throughout the market, and more clearly reflects a product’s fair market value," said Nobel.
"We applaud and support the DFA's efforts to be more inclusive and promote great design," said Maria Parasugo, Vice President Design Sales & Merchandising, Century Furniture.
"I think the initiative of the DFA will help expand the reach of great design and talented designers with new clients," said Kathy Banfe, President of North American Sales and Marketing for Farrow & Ball.