It was only a matter of time before technology began to infiltrate the interior design business. But Dinny Court, marketing manager for paint brand Dulux, seems surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.
“More than half of homeowners say that they want help but over 60 per cent say they can’t afford it. Only a really small percentage of people look to engage a professional designer,” says Court.
“We needed to find a way to deliver a mass market solution and technology has enabled us to remove some of the steps, to speed the process up, and make it more accessible.”
Though it may seem an unexpected direction for the brand – perhaps best known for its paint can-carrying sheepdogs – it put around 18 months of development into building an online interior design tool; Dulux Amazing Space.
After parting with £75 (per room), personal tastes are discovered by filling out a digital questionnaire and sharing social media composites like Tumblrs and Pinterest boards.
Then it’s time to set a budget and talk through your options with a Dulux Design Expert via a 30-minute video consultation. After discussing room sizes and floorplans, they’ll hand over a shopping list of suggestions and a 3D rendering of the new room.
Around 30 designers have been taken on by Dulux, chosen for their versatility and breadth of style, and the service is also working in partnership with big brands to recommend furnishings to suit a range of budgets.
But objections from professional interior designers are easy to pre-empt; surely any designer worth their salt needs to actually walk into the room they’re designing to get a sense of the space?
“A good designer can tell quite intuitively what the user is wanting from the questions they’re asking,” Court says. “All too often, what people need is a validation of their ideas about what might hang together.”
As with any disruptive technology, low prices and convenience are proving to be big drivers, as the website’s unique visitors are already in the thousands, despite only launching in September, and recording an average client approval rating of 4.89 out of 5.
It seems the time is ripe for the interior design industry’s digital makeover, but only time will tell if it’s a design for life.