Inspiration or imitation?

Inspiration or imitation?

We know our Members love Instagram, and we get that it’s a great source of inspiration for both designers and clients.

But with a non-stop stream of stunning designs in our social feeds every day, how do we make sure our inspiration doesn’t become imitation?

How can we be inspired by a style without downright ripping it off? And when our Client shares a Pinterest picture and wants ‘exactly that’, how do we encourage them to add their own flavour to their new bathroom or kitchen?

We’ve taken some inspiration from one of our favourite authors and have come up with three tips to help keep you on your own path:

1. Look through your own lens

‘You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.’
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

If you’re continually drawn to the style of one or a small number of designers, start looking for the parallels in their folio/s. Are there elements that they seem to repeat? Patterns? Colours? Lines? What do they see from a design perspective that you may be missing in your work? How can you learn to see through your own lens of awesomeness?

2. Give an idea an all-new spin

‘Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.’
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

If you (or your Client) are taking inspiration from another designer’s work, you’ll want to make sure you put your own creative spin on the concept. What was the element that caught your eye? A colour? A tile? A combination of finishes? How can you take that element and give it a remix? If your finished design has a hint of the original inspiration, but it’s been reworked enough to have its own sense of style, you’ve done right.

3. Credit where credit’s due

‘Don’t try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.’
Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

If you love another designer’s work and draw inspiration from their style (without imitating it to a tee), let them know. You may even earn yourself a new fan with some ‘credit where credit is due’! We have some inspiring examples of modest, humble and incredibly talented designers in our community. If you’re not already a part of it, join in!


Writing a professional Design Statement

Writing a professional Design Statement

Former entrants in the KBDi Designer Awards program will know that both Design Briefs and Design Statements are requirements in most categories. We’re sometimes asked why this is necessary, and often get a ‘please explain’ about the difference between the two.

In this article, we’ll set out the definitions of a Brief and a Statement. And we’ll share how designers can use these tools in all projects, regardless of whether or not they’re being entered into an Awards program.

What is a Design Brief?

A Design Brief is, in essence, a summary of the vital information you took away from your first Client meeting. The Design Brief will offer a clear and concise explanation of your Client’s wants, needs and desires. It will also set out the most relevant restrictions, parameters and opportunities presented by the actual building space.

Summarising your client survey form and assessing your site survey in this way is valuable for both you and your Client. You’ll have a concise and to-the-point reminder of your key objectives, and your Client can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing you’re both on the same page. Formalising your Client’s agreement to the Design Brief with a signed acknowledgement also gives you a great point of reference if your project turns pear-shaped.

What is a Design Statement?

A Design Statement allows you to present your response to the Design Brief in an equally clear and concise manner. Your Design Statement will set out how you’ve responded to your Client’s wish list, and how you have dealt with restrictions or expanded the opportunities of the given building space.

Preparing the Design Statement before presenting your final concept to the Client is as essential as rehearsing your next big speech. With a well-prepared summary of your design/thought process, you’ll be clear and confident when selling your design, and will impress your Clients with your professional service.

How to write a winning Design Statement

When your design has ticked all the boxes for your Clients, and is looking pretty spectacular, it’s tempting to be a little ‘braggy’ when summarising your brilliance in a Design Statement. You may even find yourself getting carried away with some creative writing as you outline your awesomeness, digging out your most descriptive words and design clichés.

Or better still, you could follow the tips below and present an informative, influential and professional design statement.

Keep it simple, stupid

Apply the KISS principles to your Design Statement: use the Statement for what it is – it’s a response to the Design Brief, and a summary of your design solution. Keep it ordered, too – the following three ‘rules’ will help keep your statement succinct:

(1) set out how you overcame challenges of the physical space (site),

(2) explain how you made it look good (remembering the aesthetics will be visually sold with your mood boards or 3Ds and perspectives), and

(3) describe how you fulfilled the Client’s wish list.

Forget the fluff and faff

Flowery words like fabulous, marvellous and gorgeous are rather ambiguous, and don’t always do your design justice. As a design professional, you will have considered the elements and principles of design from beginning to end of the project. Use straight-forward and relevant terminology to convey how you’ve used these visual tricks to make your design an aesthetic success.

Use your spell check (and read it out loud)

If you consider yourself a design professional, you’ll want to make sure your writing reflects this. A spell check will pick up basic spelling errors, but pay extra attention to industry-specific words and brands. Yes, your clients are paying for your design skills, and they may not expect you to be a grammar geek. They will, however, hope you have a great eye for detail, and having an error-free statement is one more way to demonstrate your attentiveness.

And finally, to ensure your text is 100% accurate, read it out loud! Use your computer’s text-to-speech function to hear the words out loud; you’ll easily pick up any misses or duplications.

Of course, you should always bring your own sense of style to a Design Statement, and you shouldn’t see the above as a solid set of rules. Consider them merely guidelines to help you develop your own unique voice. And if you have a tip to share, please comment below – we’d love to hear it!

Seven solid reasons to enter our Awards

Seven solid reasons to enter our Awards

We’re very excited to be opening this year’s KBDi Designer Awards program and can’t wait to see who’ll be taking out titles in 2021.

Of course, entering your work into an Awards program isn’t all about the win. In this feature, we’ve set out seven solid reasons to put yourself (or your team members) in the running.

#1 Team Morale / Self-Motivation

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Helen Keller

Do your team members need a boost in morale? Do you need a little pepping up yourself? Maintaining optimism has never been more important, and acknowledging your staff’s talent – or your own design prowess – is a great confidence booster.

#2 Marketing & Exposure
The free marketing associated with media exposure for award finalists is both rewarding and measurable. (See just a few examples of finalist promotions here.) You’ll want to use your accolades in all business promotion – on signage, stationery and of course, your website and social media. Be sure to brag – being shortlisted in an awards program like that delivered by KBDi is certainly something to be proud of.

#3 Benchmarking

Benchmarking is an ongoing exercise in any company that aspires for leadership.
Anand Mahindra

By comparing yourself to your competitors, you’ll soon begin to identify areas you need to develop – from a design or business perspective. Alternatively, or at the same time, you may gain faith and confidence in the skills and attributes you already possess. A benchmark is a ‘standard from which quality or excellence is measured’. Award-winning designers are setting the bar for your industry and profession: are you exceeding these standards, or are you on par? What is the benchmark of your business? Are you and your team meeting your full potential?

#4 Respect & Credibility
What do potential clients see in your media exposure? They see a business that is at the peak of its game, offering quality and credibility. You will have gained their trust and respect even before you’ve entered their home. Likewise, suppliers and other associates will recognise your achievements – this could open new doors to securing contracts, better prices and new industry contacts.

#5 Differentiating You from Your Competitors
We’re in a competitive industry, and it’s not uncommon to be contending for design. Will your award recognition put you ahead of your competition? Could it be the deciding factor for a quality client? Highly likely! Stand out from the crowd with your accolades.

#6 Staff Recruitment
Who doesn’t want to be part of a winning team? Attract new talent – those who aspire to ‘be the best’ will be looking to join like-minded professionals. Your award participation will let future team members know you’re a goal setter, and you’ll attract motivated employees to your business.

#7 Big Picture Perspective: Benefits to the Industry
By recognising and celebrating the high standards that exist in our industry, we encourage others to ‘lift their game’, and we provide the media – and potential new customers/clients – with case studies of excellent design practices. Be proud of your profession and industry, and know you’re paving the way for those who’ll follow.

Entries to the KBDi Designer Awards 2021 program close on 1 June. You’ve got to be in it to win it, so why not put yourself in the running? Download the entry pack here.

2021 KBDi Design Consultancy Agreement now available

2021 KBDi Design Consultancy Agreement now available

KBDi has once again worked with Sprint Law to draft a Design Consultancy Agreement exclusively for Members. Our annual review ensures we have a document that is compliant with today’s Australian Consumer Laws and fair for both you and your clients.  Equally as important, the agreement can serve as a great business tool for you.

How is the contract a useful business tool? We have at least five reasons to help convince you:

#1 A comprehensive contract helps you set out the scope.

The detailed section for ‘Scope of Work’ is like a project road map for you and your Clients. While you may know the order of works like the back of your hand, your Clients may never have worked with a designer before. They may also be new to the delights (and dramas) of building or renovating, and a little clueless about the process. By setting out what you can and can’t do, your client will be clear about what happens when, and precisely what is covered by your fees.

#2 It makes collecting a deposit a simple part of the process.

If you don’t collect a deposit before digging into design, we encourage you to consider adding this step to your process and payment schedule. Letting your clients know you’ll need a deposit before you get started soon sorts out the wheat from the chaff. If your client isn’t prepared to contribute to the hours/days/weeks of work you’re about to put into their project, be wary. It’s not unusual for Clients to get cold feet about a new renovation, or simply disappear into thin air (it happens!). If they’ve committed to a project through a contract and a fee, they’re much less likely to wander.

#3 It keeps your progress (and payments) flowing.

With a well set out scope of work and a clear schedule of fees, both you and your client will always have a reasonable idea of your ‘progress in the process’. You’ll have targets for completion (and fee collection), and your client can have no doubts about what is due when. If your client’s expectations begin to take a detour, your contract will help you determine how any extra work will affect your project planning.

#4 It deals with additions + omissions (variations).

If your client is adding to the scope of work or a site or budget issue has affected your contract, it’s essential to clearly and concisely set out the changes. We’ve included a variation form in your KBDi Consultancy Agreement, and encourage you to bring this to your client’s attention before changes come into play.

#5 A contract lets your clients know you’re serious.

As designers, we have a wonderful, creative and most-times fun profession. What we don’t have – despite popular belief – is a hobby that we do during regular work hours. With a detailed understanding of the design and build process, an upfront fee schedule and a streamlined system, you’ll let your Clients know you mean business.

Have you seen the 2021 KBDi Client Consultancy Agreement? This is available at no charge to all current financial KBDi Members, and downloadable at any time from your Members Portal. Can’t get into the portal yet? Complete the form below, and we’ll send you a copy.

Four sure-fire ways to improve your first impression

Four sure-fire ways to improve your first impression

Members who attended our first KBDi Professional Development session of the year were encouraged to reflect on their first impressions.

Redman Training and Development duo, Ron and Debra Redman, discussed a range of considerations and strategies related to your first meeting with a potential new client, supplier or contractor. We’ve summarised four of our favourites below.

Reset and smile

A warm and welcoming smile works wonders in establishing a good rapport. While this seems obvious, it’s important to remember that sometimes a genuine smile needs a conscientious effort. You may be deep in concentration or in the midst of some not-so-nice work when your potential new client walks through the door or calls; allowing yourself a second to ‘reset’ will help shift you from an intense or harried state to a more receptive mood.

Take note of body language

You may have intentionally or intuitively learned to read the body language of potential customers, but have you taken the time to consider your own posture and habits? Slumped shoulders, furrowed brows and poor eye contact won’t help you win a new client. Remind yourself that your own body language is as important as that of the person opposite you.

Listen to learn – not to reply

As one of our Members thoughtfully pointed out in this session, it’s impossible to listen and learn when you’re busy holding your own thoughts for rebuttal. Practise active listening, and you’ll minimise misplaced assumptions.

Recognise the repercussions

A poor first impression can have dire consequences. If you get your potential customer offside in a first encounter, your online reputation could be tarnished with a one-star review. You could also be waving goodbye to a new contract and its associated income, and any potential referrals connected with this lead. If you don’t get off to a positive start with a new supplier rep, you could miss out on special offers or the ‘over-and-above’ service you’ve appreciated in the past. And putting your trades out with gruff first impressions could mean rocky relationships from the get-go – projects rarely flow well this way.

If improving your customer service is a goal for you in 2021, you’ll be keen to learn more about the dedicated workshop being delivered by Redman Training & Development.

The one-hour online workshop is usually $150, but Ron and Debra have extended a very special offer exclusive to KBDi Members. For only $99, you’ll have access to an indepth session devoted to improving your customer service skills. If you’re keen to learn more, complete the expression of interest form below and Ron will get back to you.

Missed the KBDi videoconference? Remember all sessions are housed in the Members Portal shortly after delivery. Check in here to see what you’ve missed.

PD Tuesday | First Impressions + Client Experience

PD Tuesday | First Impressions + Client Experience

Tuesday | 2 February 2020 | 4pm ADST

We all know that first impressions matter: the first few minutes of an initial encounter can set the scene for your experience and relationship. In this interactive session, Ron and Debra Redman (Redman Training & Development), will encourage you to question how you answer your phone, greet a visitor to your showroom or even respond to an online enquiry. They’ll get you thinking about the impression you’re potentially making with new clients, suppliers or social acquaintances, and discuss strategies for ensuring your first impression leads to a lasting and positive experience.

Watch the recording

Whoops, this video is for Members only. If you have a membership, please log in. If not, you can get access by becoming a KBDi Member here.