An Open Letter to the Design Community: Standing up to Giants

To borrow from Malcom Gladwell, the story of David and Goliath is not just about David’s courage, it’s about Goliath’s blindness and how giants blunder because they can’t see, because they’ve lost the ability to appreciate the world around them.

The giants of the retail market seem to have reached a whole new level of obliviousness and they are making a move to try and dominate our industry. And the bigger they grow, the further they stray from their original promises to empower designers and deliver the best technology and products. Instead, they seem content to view the design community as a cottage industry, where we spin the wool and knit the sweaters and they pass our patterns over to potential competitors to see who can bring them the biggest profit.

Time and again, I’ve seen the worth of designers’ talents and services devalued. Something’s gotta give. Creativity and collaboration should be paramount in this business. Designers shouldn’t be spending half their time sparring with out-of-touch giants who don’t understand the space or the community and who think nothing of stealing their ideas and using them to find and sell inferior knockoffs. The fact that these bottom-line bureaucrats refuse to see the difference between a truffle and a toadstool is a head-scratcher, but their lack of respect for tradecraft could devastate the industry.

At DesignerInc, we believe that three pillars are critical to sustaining this industry: its designers; its trade-only manufacturers; and its showrooms and the design centers that house them. But to flourish, we need to work together to stave off the Goliaths and bullies of the world, and we need to adapt and evolve to the changing needs of professional interior designers and their clients.

Today, showrooms are in a precarious position that could create a domino effect across the industry. While some are thriving, others are struggling. Unfortunately, without the showrooms, designers have no way to touch and feel and comprehend the weight and gravity of a quality piece. And if designers can’t do this, the manufacturers who display their wares at the showrooms could be forced to sell to the consumer market. And if manufacturers are no longer trade-only, designers will need to source from retail markets, further strengthening the bullies.

To help prevent this chain reaction, DesignerInc does not vie for commissions from showroom-level products. By contrast, our goal is to drive the designers on our platform to their local showrooms with our “shop by showroom” feature. We’re in this for the long game and thus, we want the showrooms to succeed and prevail. Otherwise, we’re out of business.

I chose to write this letter as a call to action – a call for us to work together to stand up to the giants. DesignerInc is a friend to this industry, and I believe we can be of value to each of its critical pillars. We are committed to building and fostering a more thriving, collaborative trade community and a mutual understanding and alignment of our interests.

Please help us reach the showrooms that you know and love and spread this message by asking them to reach out so we can build DesignerInc with their involvement.

Heather Gillette

Founder and CEO