By Katy B. Olson
Joining Décor Aid and Homepolish, companies that connect clients with price-conscious design, Dezignable is relaunching its site this month. It is the latest in a wave of efforts on the part of both sites and designers, such as Windsor Smith, whose Room in a Box offers a budget-friendly design services, to upend the traditional process with new ways of connecting to clients. Cofounder Marty Collins and Dezignable member designers Sarah Durnez and Emily Wilson, two of 30 currently working with the company, chatted with EAL about the company’s mission.
The service was borne out of the founders’ shared, negative experience of home renovation, particularly its lack of transparency. “We saw a lot of opportunities to make the process better,” explains Collins. A two-sided marketplace that connects designers with clients, the site’s current designers are largely young up-and-comers who want to build their portfolio, or designers who prefer an alternative professional lifestyle, such as freelancers or designers who are also parents. As Collins puts it, “This is not a model that will work for everybody. We know who our audience is and who it’s not. We’re focused on building a service that makes design accessible to everyone.”
Dezignable accommodates large- and small-scale projects. When a new client brief is posted on the site, designers are alerted and the first three to respond with concept boards are guaranteed to be paid for their work. The designer who is awarded the project earns $150 for one room, $350 for two rooms, and $720 for four rooms. The other two designers earn $60 for one room, $140 for two rooms and $300 for four rooms.
Designers’ perks include flexibility, says Collins: “Work where you want, how you want, when you want.” Designers Durnez and Wilson echo the sentiment. Durnez, who Collins originally found via Facebook, runs a home-based studio, with the majority of her work being supplemental services to other designers -- such as creating AutoCadd drawings, renderings and presentations done remotely. “From a designer’s standpoint, working with Dezignable opens up another avenue to potential clients. I have the opportunity to submit to projects all over the U.S., whereas in a traditional setting I would be limited to my local. I also have the ability to work as much, or as little through this format, which is a wonderful feature as a business owner,” says Durnez.
Wilson, on the other hand, signed up for the service. She says, "What a cool opportunity for design requests coming to me straight from my inbox from all over the country, and I started jumping at them.” She has so far submitted four designs and has been chosen for three; the first, a master bath project that required a full facelift "to create a modern feel with some tropical getaway accents." She also created designs for a modern, urban loft tying together two living spaces and a kitchen, as well as an Upper East Side apartment.
Next steps for Dezignable are finishing up its stint in the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator program, which will conclude with a Shark Tank-style Demo Day this October. Collins hopes to raise funds for marketing and hiring additional engineers to further build the site out, with the goal of price-consciousness in mind: “We’re focused on building a service that makes design accessible to everyone. Anyone that’s had design and knows what it’s like to build in a beautiful space can understand and appreciate how important that should be."