The past two years have entirely shifted the way businesses function, as isolation, working from home and Zoom Calls became the norm and online forms of communication became more important than ever. As we saw, Australian businesses adapted in their own way during the pandemic, with many brick and mortar stores forced to close during the lockdowns and online trading and operating becoming the prevalent force in how businesses function.
My business, 13 Interiors is an Interior Design studio which specialises in transforming residential spaces across Australia and beyond. Our projects include interior and exterior selections, designs for new builds and renovations, full home furniture fit outs and styling services, and although we’re based in Perth, we work on a national scale, so, needless to say, the past two years have been challenging in their own way for my business.
Since inception in 2017, my business has had a digital based presence, and admittedly, a lot of my clients find me through Instagram as well as through our website. I did notice that despite our prevalent online presence initially, throughout the pandemic I was implementing new strategies within the team and updating the existing systems constantly to ensure we could work 100% remotely during the pandemic.
Although I have always known the importance of working on your online presence, I think the pandemic really cemented how important it is for businesses.
Often, I’m helping my clients create their forever home and it’s an enormous responsibility which requires a considerable amount of trust. I love having the opportunity to build my relationships with my clients to ensure the best results for them and their future!
The lockdown laws and travelling restrictions impacted the way I made these connections, as in some instances I wasn’t able to be in the home physically or meet my clients in person. Access to apps such as FaceTime and Zoom provided a wonderful platform to ‘walk’ through the house with my clients and experience the spaces together and through the clients’ eyes, while also building our connection and being able to execute the client services to a high standard.
Coupled with the human connection, the design journey with a remote client is enabled through technology – from capturing key measurements with builders to 3D software and rendering – technology provides a life-like feel that can be delivered in real-time, increasing productivity and efficiency of our work, and for myself and the team the projects we completed during the pandemic have been nothing short of spectacular.
We’ve had the opportunity to work on some incredible homes across Australia these past couple of years. In fact, one of the projects I worked on was based here in Perth, and my gorgeous clients were based in the UK! This was a funny scenario as it was reversed – typically I’m the one who is unable to visit the home – however for this project, I was inside the clients’ home, and they were the ones unable to see it in person!
The design perspective and processes were managed with the latest 3D software, Sketchup. Sketchup allowed me to draw precise and accurate designs, renders and building measurements, ensuring there were no faults and/or mistakes in the planning process – something I believe is vital to a successful build. Electronic notebooks also allowed for important notes to be instantly delivered to the clients’ inbox within minutes.
We also adapted our styling perspective to include more style placements and decor items into our clients’ brief. This includes details like cushions, vases, coffee tables and books and we show exactly where and how these are styled inside the home.
Another challenge which presented itself during the pandemic included the delayed arrival of all materials and furniture across Australia and because we’re importing a lot of the materials from overseas the delay in shipping was astronomical and therefore it became a bit of a juggling act to ensure the projects were running smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
In fact, juggling the lead times was the most challenging part and it still continues to this day – as we’re currently in the middle of a very large building and renovation boom here in Australia! Not only are furniture lead times drastically delayed, but a lot of trades also involved in the joinery installations, plumbing work, electrical and carpentry finishes are subsequently delayed and so it’s a huge job trying to manage all the trades and furniture installations to meet a required date and coincide perfectly.
I overcame this by careful planning and daily communication with my clients, the suppliers and all the trades.
Having the correct platforms and tech capabilities assisting you in business allows a seamless integration between designer and client and streamlines all communication – it is all just so helpful for my business!