In these unprecedented times, the design industry has been forced to pivot from hands-on collaboration to remote communication and project management from afar. As we’ve all adjusted to this current reality, designers, architects, and artists alike have refashioned their ways of working with clients, staff, and business partners. We spoke with 11 top industry pros about the ways they’re making remote interior design work, with an optimistic eye toward what comes after—and a lot of love for Zoom. Read what they had to say, and be sure to listen to the current episode of the Chairish podcast for more tips on creativity during the crisis.
Katie Leede: Set Goals & Use Timelines
“Our team is communicating first thing every morning via Zoom, with each member reporting from home on how they are progressing on their achievable daily and week-long goals as well as how they did the day before on their allotted tasks. This is also a wonderful time to share our feelings about what is happening and deepen our connection to each other during this unusual moment in all of our lives.
Setting clear timelines on tasks has proven productive. We are also taking this opportunity to pull back from our heavy focus on interior design projects to think more globally about fresh marketing efforts, from a new Instagram account to budgeting for and completing artwork on a new wallpaper collection. And personally, I’m diving into personal enrichment, cooking great meals, taking an online watercolor class, reading up on screenwriting and doing yoga via Youtube — I plan to be fit and raring to go physically and creatively as soon as we get to hit the office again.”
Suzanne Kasler: Stay Connected
“The design industry is one founded on creativity and collaboration, so working remotely does not come naturally for us. But today, with this unusual circumstance and uncertain times, thanks to technology, we have been able to make it work. To keep our projects moving, we have enabled our employees to work from their homes, with remote access to our programs and systems. We are using platforms like Zoom to virtually meet and present to our clients. I have found that communication is key and we all need to stay connected to maintain a sense of normalcy.”
Ken Fulk: Foster Community for Staff
“With 75 folks spread out across two studios, it’s always a challenge for us to communicate effectively. We are using this time to utilize tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts and institute protocols such as daily team calls and weekly all-staff meetings to make us more effective. These same practices will be helpful when things go back to normal. But it’s not just getting the work done that’s important. It’s maintaining a sense of community. To this end, we have created the Daily Fulk — a personal newsletter from me — and Fulk My Life, a messaging board including a playlist of our favorite tunes.”
Angie Hranowsky: Keep Creating
“Like everyone, we have been thrown quite a curveball. We are making sure our clients’ needs are being met as quickly as possible and are trying to create a sense of normalcy as much as we can. I’m also talking with our clients, who are deciding to put projects on hold for health or financial reasons, and letting them know that we understand and will be here ready to dive back in as soon as they are. We can’t make onsite visits or visit any workrooms or showrooms, and are working with those trades remotely. Our first priority is the safety of our staff, our families and our clients.
My tip: try to keep working as much as you can. It’s hard to not get distracted with the news and children at home, but it will uplift us all to know that we are continuing to contribute each day. Even if your work has slowed, try to use the time to create in another way: draw, sketch, create mood boards, or just read books you never have time for. I practice Transcendental Meditation and I’m making sure I keep up with my practice twice a day to create a sense of calm.”
Tish Mills, of Tish Interior Design: Be Generous
“The new reality has really called for each of us to work even smarter. While we are working from home on the things we can, we are monitoring deliveries, as we had just placed orders for several whole house projects. We meet UPS and Fed-Ex as needed to keep projects moving. I have set up a work area at the house to do as much as possible from there. Even with the workspace, my favorite place to work is on my laptop either on the sofa or sitting on my bed where I can spread out papers.
Furthermore, since our business is so construction heavy, we have had to keep projects and decisions moving along. FaceTime has been our friend to visually meet with clients, builders and subs. We email, use Google sheets, photograph things. It is about communicating and touching all parties in the most efficient, safe way. It is also about having a really positive CAN DO attitude to help everyone get through this. It goes a long way. Be kind, generous, and helpful.”
Tina Ramchandani: Keep Shipping & Focus on Essentials
We’ve moved to working virtually, which means we are meeting with clients via Zoom or Facetime. For presentations, we are shipping one set of samples to clients and keeping a set for ourselves, which allows us to hold a meeting that is pretty close to normal! We’re looking at the same items at the same time and getting a lot accomplished. We’ve noticed how efficient working virtually can be, so we’ve put together a new accessibly priced design program called The Essentials. Our focus with our remote interior design approach has been to support our favorite small businesses and boutique brands while creating soulful minimalist homes quickly and efficiently.
Andrea Martoccia, of Motivo Home: Improve & Reorganize
“Over the past weeks, we have had all of our client presentations and meetings with architects and our team through Zoom. Today’s technology has allowed us to keep up with business as usual. And, with the change of pace, we’ve even been able to take some time to improve upon our processes and reorganize the bookshelves.”
Jonathan Savage, of Savage Interior Design: Create Daily To-Do’s
“The key to working remotely is to make sure you and your staff are equipped with laptop computers and a centralized server so that everyone can have access to all files. A great example that we use here at Savage is Dropbox. My office has set calls each day to discuss progress per project. We also share a running “to do list” for each project with the tasks at hand allocated to each employee. The most important thing to make it work is constant communication between staff members and yourself. If you do this, you will find it is not as hard as it may seem.”
Tom Diverio, of Dunagan Diverio: Reevaluate & Streamline
“At Dunagan Diverio Design Group, we are working full time remotely and are dedicated to moving forward and giving our clients and their projects the best that we can. This global pandemic has forced us to reevaluate our standard practices and streamline our day-to-day operations. We are learning a lot and feel confident that once this is finally all over, we will be stronger and more focused than ever.”
Amy Morris: Be Ready for After
“During these unprecedented times, we are trying to keep it ‘business as usual.’ The Amy Morris Interiors team is working remotely from our homes and we are having client meetings via Zoom. We still have access to most vendors and showrooms, albeit not in person. This has enabled us to continue working on current projects. Our expectation is that after this is all over, people will be ready more than ever to make changes to their homes and we will be busier than we were before all this started.”
Janice Parker, of Janice Parker Landscape Architects: Stay Engaged
“We feel a personal responsibility to our craftsmen and crews — we are a team. We are doing our best to help them stay gainfully employed throughout the pandemic. Our main focus is on the safety and health of our team and crews. We have made many adjustments. Staying positive and engaged is good medicine!”
For more ideas around remote interior design, check out the Chairish podcast on creativity during the crisis.